Intimate Italian dining is back in Melbourne’s CBD, thanks to Joseph Vargetto’s latest project, Massi. Named after his youngest child, Massimo, the unique space is a little slice of Sicilian heaven, delivering authentic European fare every day of the working week.
Since the success of his first venture, Mister Bianco, Joe wanted to further share his passion for quality Italian food with local businesses, tourists and the CBD clientele. Inspired by his recent travels to places such as Padua, Verona and Bergamo Alto, his vision was to pay homage to the elegance of the region by offering good food and wine to the Melbourne community.
Start your day right with colazione, otherwise known as breakfast. Massi is the kind of place where you can get a quick morning espresso fix with a delicious Italian pastry to go, or take a stool to quietly watch the world go by.
By midday, enter the warm, understated space to watch the chefs at work, slicing salumi or terrines to order in Massi’s ‘Crudo’ corner. For those wanting to enjoy a slower lunch, there’s a wide range of authentic menu items available. Warm up your palate with a selection of antipasto, including sweet fried peppers with nduja, fried stuffed olives, and Bacala mantecato. From here, drift off to Sicily to indulge in a rich cavatelli, served with slow-cooked pork shoulder ragu and white beans; black spaghettini with vongole, blue swimmer crab, garlic and chilli; or ricotta gnocchi with salted speck, radicchio and truffle cream.
There’s also the tempting crumbed veal cotoletta, served with porcini sauce and crispy onions; or the pan-fried Barramundi fillet with saras baby carrots ‘a la greque’.
In true Italian fashion, the desserts are a highlight of the dining experience at Massi. Choose between the Sicilian orange cake with ricotta cream and citrus segments, lingua di gatti with dark chocolate, and the ever-popular tart of the day. All desserts are designed to be shared: why choose one when you could try them all?
Massi hosts an aperitivo hour every day from 4.30pm. Those wanting to greet the evening in style can relax with a drink from the exciting range; from prosecco spritz, to wine and beer, there’s something for everyone.
Joe’s food is simple, elegant and comfortable, much like the restaurant setting itself. With warm, chocolate tones, leather-bound booths and golden light fixtures, Massi is endlessly inviting, with friendly, attentive staff to match. The restaurant also offers a licensed bottle store, with an extensive museum of select wines to be purchased. So there’s no need to fret; you can enjoy a bottle or two of the beautiful wine you’ve enjoyed over lunch or dinner at home too.
Joe’s passion for creating quality Italian food ensures that Massi is a dining destination like no other. With a motto like ‘non mangiamo vivere… viviamo per mangiare’, meaning ‘we don’t eat to live… we live to eat’, how could you go wrong?
Words by Jesse Thomas