quick bite: Il Massimo

November 23, 2022 (updated February 16, 2023)

I first wrote about Il Massimo in the summer of 2021 when I tried polpo alla griglia, their octopus dish, on two consecutive visits. It was delicious with a generous amount of charred octopus, on top of a light stew of white beans, garlic, grape tomatoes, sausage, and parsley. Since then, I’ve been back to Il Massimo many times. It’s a favorite stop of mine after work for a drink and some good food.

I haven’t had a bad dish yet, and even though I’ve gone back to the octopus a couple of times, I’ve eaten a lot more of the menu now. For appetizers I recommend, either the polpette or carpaccio. The meatballs are made with veal, beef, and pork and served with marinara and creamy ricotta. The carpaccio is beautiful, paper-thin slices of beef tenderloin, topped with arugula, capers, shaved Parmesan, and horseradish aioli.

For lunch, you can choose from their three course “presto! lunch,” (a great deal at $22) or just go for one of their panini. The porchetta, with horseradish and mustard aioli, pickled onions, arugula, and fontina cheese, is delicious. Even better is the chicken pesto panini with mozzarella and tomato. They come with fries, or sub them out for a solid caesar salad.

Anatra is a hearty meal if you’re looking to fill up, two large confit duck legs with fig and marscapone ravioli. If you want something lighter, the spicy branzino with Calabrian chili served with green beans is healthy but amazing. But my favorite dish to order these days is the risotto. They cook their rice so that it is creamy, but never mushy, and pair it with exceptional seafood. Right now they have two on the menu, “Risotto ai Gamberi” and “Capesante”. Risotto ai Gamberi is a creamy pea-marscapone risotto topped with shrimp. The Capesante is a butternut squash risotto topped with perfectly seared sea scallops and garnished with brussels sprouts and pancetta.

In addition to great food, I’ve enjoyed a good number of their cocktails. Over the summer, my choice was the Massimo Spritz, an Aperol spritz with gin in it. But that’s off the menu for the winter, so I’m now enjoying the Apple Cider Sangria with wine, apple brandy, apple-pear simple, and lemon juice. For dessert, I usually steal a bite of someone else’s tiramisu, but the pistachio gelato is worth a try too. Service is friendly, especially in the bar area where I normally find myself. And in warmer months, the patio, though you are looking out on a parking lot, is a nice place to spend the afternoon. When I go back, which I will, if I try something new, which I might, I will post it down below. Until then, let me know if you have been and what you think.

Update February 16, 2023

I went back to Il Massimo yesterday and tried a new dessert, the Budino di Pane. It is a golden raisin bread pudding and it is heaven. The top has bite to it, almost as if it had been brûléed, but the inside is incredibly moist and packed with raisins. The contrast is fantastic. It is served with a dollop of whipped cream, a scoop of gelato, and a few bites of berries. I never noticed it on the menu until yesterday, but I hope I’m back before it disappears.

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