Mambo Italiano

Da Massimo (formerly Inkino), 63 Nizami, Baku

Tel.:+994 12 596 03 04

Italians just do it better. They do everything better, design, fashion, fast cars, architecture, art, history, shoes, landscapes, language, scooters, films, flirting, coffee, ice cream and, of course, food and wine. Everything Italian is always either picturesque or stylish or, most usually, both. You can’t beat sitting in the sunshine on some piazza, surrounded by grand old Renaissance palaces or, for that matter, pretty, slightly dilapidated village houses, sipping your espresso or cappuccino, admiring the sheer ‘euforia’ of the locals on their shiny Vespas or in their whizzy little Fiats, giving you their most charming ‘Ciao Bella!’, ‘Bongiorno’, ‘Grazie’ and ‘Prego’. Shelley, Byron, Goethe, Turner, all returned from their ‘Grand Tours’ full of Italian romance and poetry and which of us hasn’t visited Venice, Rome, Florence or the Amalfi coast and dreamt of just staying there forever, living the Italian life? Who hasn’t sobbed after watching ‘A Roman Holiday’, swooned at ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, shuddered at ‘Don’t Look Now’, laughed at ‘The Italian Job’? And who hasn’t fantasized about being Sophia Loren for just one afternoon? Or maybe that’s just me trying to compensate for my lack of cleavage….?

Das Massimo
Da Massimo

Here in Baku we’re quite well served with Italian eateries. There’s the ever popular Scalini, traditional and cosy, the elegant Zafferano at The Four Seasons, Tosca for a quick pizza by the seafront, Vapiano for a great Euro ambience, and then there’s the lovely Da Massimo, previously known as Inkino. Just a few steps along from the ISR Plaza building, close to Fountain Square, chef Massimo and Maitre D’ Fabrizio have created a stylish and very civilized restaurant. Everything here is classy, from the chic pale stone coloured furniture to the crisp white table cloths, Villeroy and Boch crockery and tall sparkling wine glasses and yet, it is also completely relaxed and comfortable. The menu is classic Italian with everything you might expect, meat, including Osso Buco, all manner of pasta, soups, salads, fish, you name it, it’s there and it’s all very tempting. We had a shared beef carpaccio with parmesan and rocket which was delicious, followed by Gorgonzola Ravioli in pumpkin sauce for the lovely husband and Spaghetti Vongole for me, both excellent. For pudding we shared a cheesecake with melograno, a kind of pomegranate jelly, of which I could easily have had a second helping. Our wine, a Pinot Grigio Iordano, was very good too and chilled to perfection. Service was smooth, very friendly and just so, with not a single hiccough or frustration. If I have any suggestions for improvement at all, then I might put forward the idea of just dimming the lights a little bit for that added sense of romance.

Homemade grissini and rolls with herby goats' cheese
Homemade grissini and rolls with herby goats’ cheese
Beef Carpaccio at Da Massimo
Beef Carpaccio at Da Massimo
Spaghetti Vongole
Spaghetti Vongole

Da Massimo oozes quality and style and it’s therefore not at all surprising that most of the clientele were, in fact, Italian, clearly feeling happy and very much at home. This is a really lovely restaurant for a date and it’s got to be one of my top five places in Baku. Our meal came to AZN111, including a bottle of wine at AZN41, and water.

Ravioli with Gorgonzola in pumpkin sauce
Ravioli with Gorgonzola in pumpkin sauce
Cheesecake with Melograno
Cheesecake with Melograno

Da Massimo also provided all the canapé catering for a drinks party for 40 people we gave at our home earlier this year. On that occasion too, the food was great and the waiter service tip top. Fabrizio made all the planning very easy for us and made sure that we had a most successful evening.

The pretty bill container
The pretty bill container

Everything at Da Massimo is thoughtful and well executed and definitely a pleasure not to be missed.