Neighbourhood favourite Massimo’s in Hout Bay keeps fans coming back for trademark pizzas, delicious Italian dishes and some South African twists.
The antipasti selection will have you weak at the knees, with everything from seared beef carpaccio and polenta-and-parmesan bites with truffle salt to fried mozzarella balls with creamy pesto.
You could move on to serious Italian fare like artichoke soup with a Parma ham crisp, duck-filled ravioli with wild mushrooms, a T-bone with Dijon mustard sauce, or spicy beef and lamb meatballs, but the famous pizza is probably why you’re here.
If you skipped the starters to head straight for the pizza oven, start with the fun focaccia, Between the Sheets, stuffed with cream cheese and gorgonzola. The Pancetta pizza with pan-fired mushrooms is a simple classic, but you could shake things up a bit with the Afrikana, which comes with boerewors and caramelised onions; the Capo Tonno, with capers, fresh rocket and tuna carpaccio; or beautiful vegetarian options like the Tricolore with roasted garlic, cacio, ribbons of zucchini and fresh tomato; or the Zucca with roasted butternut, feta, chilli and garlic. All come with a thin but just chewy enough base, slightly blackened at the bottom by the wood-fired oven. If you’re avoiding gluten, try their homemade chickpea base, or the one made with Glutagon flour for an extra R18.
Pasta options are numerous and varied enough to keep everybody happy, with all the Italian ingredients your heart could desire, including Parma ham, basil pesto, roasted garlic, pine nuts, anchovies, bacon and artichoke truffle cream.
Finish off the meal with one of a handful of reliable options, including sticky toffee pudding, tiramisu, a chocolate brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce, crème brûlée or Italian kisses. There are sweet pizzas too, topped with chocolate spread, bananas and caramel sauce.
They’re in the process of obtaining a new liquor licence, so while they can’t sell you any alcohol, they can serve you a ‘free’ carafe, glass of wine or draught beer along with small focaccia breads. The neat vino selection keeps it local with a couple of Hout Bay brands amongst some interesting offerings.
A warm greeting from Tracy at the door makes us feel very welcome and we spy Massimo himself talking to regulars and checking on things at the pizza-making station. It’s great that the restaurant hires and upskills youngsters from disadvantaged communities in Hout Bay. Our waiter isn’t the chirpiest, but maybe it’s just an off day for him, as the other staff seem to be all smiles.
The spacious restaurant has big tables for family gatherings (which are popular here) and some smaller ones dotted in the corners for more intimate meals. The pizza oven and fireplace keep things warm in winter, with the doors spilling onto a little garden with a jungle gym for the kids. Black-and-white family photos add to the homey atmosphere.
Massimo’s generously supports various charities. Order the Luna pizza and R10 will go to DARG and Hout Bay PETS; if you have the Sunflower pizza or pasta, R10 goes to The Sunflower Fund to support bone-marrow donors; and the Happy Valley calzone supports Hout Bay Neighbourhood watch with R10 per order. You can also #payitforward by purchasing a virtual slice of pizza for R10. For every six slices sold, Massimo’s will deliver one pizza to that month’s chosen charity or organisation.
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