George’s Paragon unveils its Italian-inspired sibling Massimo Restaurant & Bar
In the hospitality industry, location can make or break any aspiring venue – and riverside real estate is the hottest of hot property. It’s rare that the bustling dining strip along Eagle Street has a vacancy, but after Groove Train’s departure, a prime piece of riverside space became available to anyone that could pitch a winning idea. Michael Tassis of Eagle Street institution George’s Paragon won the day, earning the right to implement a long-held dream of a classy Italian eatery right on the river’s edge. Massimo Restaurant & Bar is that dream made real – an eatery that specialises in modern Italian flavours with a versatile menu that can satisfy all comers.
When it comes to seafood restaurants, George’s Paragon is often singled out as one of Brisbane’s best. A pedigree like that is hard to ignore, so when owner Michael Tassis decided to double up on his Eagle Street venue tally, many perked up and took notice. Massimo Restaurant & Bar opened last Thursday April 11, unveiling a concept centred on recognisable Italian fare that eschews unnecessary artifice. Put simply, this is Italian done well, with fresh ingredients and flavours designed to do the talking. On top of this, Michael and his team envisioned Massimo Restaurant & Bar as a place that could be suitable for a variety of outings, be it quick power lunches, special occasions or casual sunset snacking. As Michael likes to put it – Massimo is, at its core, a place for people to “eat, live and enjoy”.
The first step in implementing Michael’s vision for Massimo involved reworking the old Groove Train space, which boasted a dark palette that now seems a gloomy fit when compared to Massimo’s bright and airy aesthetic. With 35 metres of riverside frontage to play with, local design crew Clui decided to utilise as many of the space’s natural elements as possible, with tables placed to emphasise the view of the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge beyond. A neutral colour scheme of white, charcoal, grey, light blue, gold and brass has been applied to the 140-seater venue, from the casual lounge space at the bar to the antique mirrors adorning the restaurant’s far wall. Speaking of notable design touches, worthwhile mentions include the brand-new seafood and meat cabinet viewable upon entry, curtained booths for private dining, intricate light fixtures, a gleaming red Vespa parked outside and a sizeable artwork next to the bar that’ll have you craving a big bowl of spaghetti.
The food and drink
Massimo Restaurant & Bar’s menu, while extensive, offers a more stripped-back approach to what one might expect from any Italian feast. Michael and Massimo’s head chef Davide De Scisciolo have collaborated on a versatile menu that blends Italy’s diverse regions with a streamlined modernity (and a good dose of quality seafood, as is to be expected from the George’s team). Massimo’s main array of fare is loaded with winners – nearly too many to mention. If we had to single out a few stand-out dishes, we’d pick the tramezzino sandwich, baby squid stuffed with Italian sausage and served with squid-ink tagliolini, cured octopus carpaccio, slow-cooked veal-shin osso bucco with charred gnocchi, Roman-style lamb shoulder, the T-bone alla Florentine and the porchetta pork. The bar also has a snack-worthy list of bites, including cold meats, char-grilled prawns and calamari. If all of that sounds too meaty, Massimo also has a separate menu for vegetarian and vegan diners. The day and night menus are the same, but those dining while the sun is shining are treated to a fixed-price menu, making for a great-value option for a professional luncheon. The bar is loaded with plenty of quaffing material. Massimo’s wine list is split evenly between Italian wines and drops from Australia and New Zealand. Italian beer is available on tap and bottled, in addition to Massimo’s own custom-brewed house pale ale and lager. Rounding out the sip selection is a range of top-shelf spirits, cocktails and an extensive list of Italian grappa.
Massimo Restaurant & Bar is now open to the public. Contact details and opening hours can be found in the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.