Sirio Maccioni, the legendary founder of the New York restaurant Le Cirque, died on Sunday in his hometown of Tuscany, Italy. He was 88.
His son Mauro Maccioni told Page Six that his father had been fading for some time and he died of natural causes, surrounded by family and friends.
The senior Maccioni rose to fame after working at the Colony Club as a maître d’hotel in the late 1960s. In 1974, he opened Le Cirque, which first opened at the Mayfair Hotel and later relocated to the New York Palace Hotel, and again to the Bloomberg Building.
The circus-themed concept grew to include sons Mauro, Mario and Marco Maccioni and Le Cirque for years became the dining spot for Manhattan elite and power brokers. Many of the nation’s top chefs passed through Le Cirque’s kitchens, including Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Terrance Brennan, Michael Lomonaco, Bill Telepan, Alex Stratta and Geoffrey Zakarian.
Industry veterans paid tribute on social media, including Boulud, who wrote, “No one in the business was more elegant, savvy and confident in running the dining room of #lecirque. Sirio always gave me a lot of energy to cook my heart out in the kitchen. He gave me the chance to learn how to be a great chef and a great host.”
The parent company of Le Cirque filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017, and the landmark restaurant served its last meal on New Year’s Eve that year, and sister concept Circo also closed. The company attempted a revival with licensed versions of the concept, including a short-lived location of Circo in Dallas, which closed in 2019.
Known for his charm and acute mastery of New York’s social scene, Maccioni is also credited with launching the popularity of dishes like pasta alla primavera and crème brûlée.
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