My first meal at Massimo’s Pizza Club

All pics taken on smartphone

News update:  As of Sunday 8 July, I am no longer a Massimo’s Pizza Club virgin. I don’t why it’s taken me so long to eat at this extremely popular Cape Town restaurant but it’s happened and as they say, ‘there’s no going back’.

You mention the phrase best pizza in Cape Town and automatically people almost start chanting, Massimo’s, Massimo’s!

I guess I was interested to find out what was so great about the place so when I was asked if I wanted to join a group of friends there for Sunday lunch, I thought it best to accept the invitation.  I’m so glad I did!

The atmosphere
Being a typical Cape Town winter day – i.e damp, wet and cold, anywhere with a fire place is going to lift the spirits. I was pleased to see that Massimo’s had two. One normal fire place and a fire in the pizza oven (duh!), which is built into the wall of the open dining area. The warm ‘n cosy factor was definitely playing its part well.

The décor is simple and homey with raw brick walls covered in old photographs of the Italian owner’s family.  One thing that stood out to me from the get-go was that Massimo’s is more than just a business. The husband and wife team that own the restaurant are very hands-on and make sure that guests are truly looked after.

The service
I was really impressed with our waitress who was knowledgeable about what was on offer and happily made adjustments to our menu requests. (Half way through our meal, she even put on a little ‘show’ for everyone by belting out a song with one of the other waitresses. Harmonising nogal!)

The food
This almost deserves a whole post of its own but we’ll see how this goes…

Firstly Massimo is 100% Italian (He has the accent to match) and so the food is, not surprisingly, WAY above any average ‘authentic Italian’ trattoria you’re likely to come across in SA. What do I mean by that? Well the ingredients speak for themselves and each dish is simple. No fussy over-complicated flavours and poncy plating. Just fresh, seasonal produce heightened to gastronomic perfection. (I can totally see why his wife married him!)

What we ate
In the spirit of all things Italian, we decided to go all out on the Sputini menu (little snacks) and ordered the following:
Pepite mixed fried polenta & parmesan bites, dusted with truffle salt
Polpettine (Italian meatballs) with spicy tomato sauce
Fonduta (melted cacio & mozzarella cheeses, with chorizo, roasted garlic & focaccia)
Fried mozzarella bites  with spicy tomato sauce
Roasted peppers with Bagna Cauda (garlic, anchovies & butter sauce)

They were all incredibly tasty and together with my chilled glass of Prosecco, they went down a treat.

Pizza’s
You can’t go to Massimo’s and not order pizza. That would be pointless and to be honest, a waste of a drive in my opinion. If you’re a table of 6 or more, you can partake in the “Italian Feast” which offers a selection of salads and starters as well as, wait for it… unlimited pizza! (Oh my gosh, seriously why I have never been here before?!!)

We thought long and hard about it (no exaggeration. We really did) and came to the conclusion that we would share 2 pizza’s between us and go half-half on the toppings (which enabled us to taste 4 different pizza’s). Of course I was totally down with this idea because I love being able to taste small portions of different things throughout my meal.

This is what we had:
Capra-  tomato, fresh goats cheese, salsa verde  (*contains anchovies). This came highly recommended by our friend Andy who I think dines at Massimo’s pretty frequently.
Montagna – garlic butter, cacio cheese, Black forest ham, mushrooms
Chorizo tomato, mozzarella, spicy sausage, olives
Parma ham special– artichokes, Parma ham, mushrooms and artichoke cream

I was rather full after this but not ‘oh-my-word-I-can’t breathe’ full that usually hits me after chowing pizza. There was definitely room for dessert!

Dessert
Our table opted to carry through the ‘sharing’ theme which saw us ordering Tiramisu, crème brûlée, and rich and warm bread and butter pudding with a side of creamy custard. Some decided to enjoy it with a hot Irish coffee but not being such a fan, I went with a straight Americano. A complimentary plate arrived complete with Massimo’s homemade chocolate liqueur in little chocolate cups. Adorable and delicious!

The highlight
When our bill arrived, instead of little packaged mints, the waitress appeared with spoons on a tray which held a very strong-looking golden yellow liquid. She explained that it contained 96% alcohol and in it were sugar cubes. We all know that sugar is hydroscopic… yip, sure you can tell where this is going.

She extracted the sugar cubes from the alcohol and placed them onto the spoons and began flambéeing the sugar. What a fun sight! And definitely a unique element to the end of any dining experience.

I can’t wait to go back!!

Follow Massimo on Twitter @pizzaclub_hb for daily updates! Just a warning:  His tweets aren’t for the empty-stomached!!!!

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