Marlow Moo and I admire the reductionist room, replete with bare incandescent walls and a weathered brick wall. We are greeted by a basket of warm flatbread from which tendrils of rosemary and sprinkles of sea salt sing.
An appetizer of refreshingly unsalty Parma ham shares quarters with milky rounds of bocconcini, earthy arugula, and more flatbread. When eaten together, these ingredients make beautiful gustatory music that swings from sweet to savoury and back again.
Gnocchi with prawns and basil pesto eschews a traditional green pesto for a redder, spicier one that provides unexpected (and most welcome) heat after every bite. Prawns and gnocchi, on their own, tend to be quite mild, and their sensational sauce gives the entire dish a drop-kick of meraviglioso.
Risotto of the day aims high but misses its target. Tiny florets of broccoli and drizzles of olive oil add a touch of greenery, but the rice needs a few more minutes in the pan. Risotto should be creamy, but this dish feels like a party of somewhat crunchy rice went for a swim in vaguely watery surroundings.
Dessert marks a return to the previous courses' high standards. House-made tiramisu is a boozy and rich tower crowned with a sprinkle of crushed amaretti cookies. Bravo, Massimo's. It is my hope that Massimo's becomes one of the city's go-to places for fine Italian dining. The food more than warrants it.
Read Moo's take on the evening here.