Tony Sassi was born in Abruzzo, on the Adriatic Coast of Italy and he grew up enjoying the wonderful flavours of the Italian seaside ports of Vasto and Pescara. He now translates those flavours into modern cuisine for his loyal customers, who have been frequenting Sassi since it opened in Port Douglas in 1988.
Tony is renowned for his lighter, fragrant interpretation of Italian food. He has a perfect understanding of purity and balance of flavours, and the ability to enhance, rather than swamp, high quality produce. The abundance of local seafood used at Sassi is lovingly prepared to Tony’s exacting standards. The local prawns, bugs, mudcrab, and barramundi – all sing when given the Sassi treatment.
Sassi is located right in the heart of Port Douglas, opposite the sea and Anzac Park. The vibrant, dramatic interior opens up to the lush tropical greenery outside. Dine alfresco on the seaside for a more intimate dining experience, or street-side for some serious people watching. Inside, in air conditioned comfort, there’s the smart, casually elegant decor and the bustling bartenders mixing up all sorts of refreshing cocktails.
The ‘spuntini’ – small dishes to share – are the perfect way to begin your dining experience at Sassi. Try the Gamberi Fritti – crisp fried small local prawns with garlic and chilli, and the Polpo Alla Griglia – chargrilled octopus dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, garlic and parsley. Follow that with the Sassi Carpaccio – thinly sliced raw Tasmanian salmon, extra virgin olive oil, citrus soy, pepper, herbs and chilli. Or perhaps choose a delicate handmade pasta.
Your main course might be the Zuppa di Pesce – a selection of the best, freshest seafood available, including reef fish, tiger prawns, bugs, baby octopus, calamari, mussels and clams cooked in white wine and fish stock, with a touch of tomato and hints of fragrant herbs and lemon. Or perhaps you’ll opt for the often featured special Carpretto Alla Cacciatore – young goat cooked in the hunters’ style, with white wine, garlic, breadcrumbs, pecorino, rosemary, bay leaf and a touch of chilli. For dedicated carnivores there’s the 600g pepper crusted rib eye on the bone.
Tony’s understanding of purity and balance in his flavours means he creates for his patrons ‘taste memories’ on the palate, with fragrance and an assured lightness of touch. It’s about smart, traditional Italian dishes adapted to the climate and served with simplicity and flair.
To finish, try the Gelato Al Basilico – basil gelati with figs, prunes and walnuts mascerated in Armagnac, or the Tortino Di Cioccolato al Cuore Bianco – warm dark chocolate pudding with a white chocolate heart and vanilla cream.
Whatever you choose, you can be sure of Sassi’s crisp, pure flavours of his homeland, with a light, fresh, North Queensland twist.