Perched above Paddington’s iconic Light Brigade Hotel and beside hot new experimental restaurant Pinbone, the revamped La Scala has taken a step back, offering casual, neighbourhood dining in humble surrounds. At first glance, the restaurant isn’t radically different; only subtle changes like the removal of tablecloths and the addition of timber fixtures. What is left is a more down-to-earth space, thanks to the adept touch of designer Annie Snell.
This same approach has been applied to the menu, with a focus on seasonal and local produce, without all the usual fine dining fluff. Massimo Mele is the face behind this menu and he’s as charming (and good looking) as one would expect from an Australian-Italian; born in Tasmania but raised in Naples, Italy. Like all good Italians, Massimo’s love of food came from his mother; growing up in the Mele household “every day was Sunday and every Sunday was like Christmas.”
When it comes to pre-dinner cursors, Massimo plays tribute to his childhood, offering Mamma Maria’s pickled carrots, goats curd, oregano and mint; Nonna’s antipasto of marinated octopus salad with potato, celery heart, chilli and fennel; and an Amalfi Coast classic of grilled lemon scented veal meatballs. The menu changes weekly, depending on what is available from The Cooks Co-Op, who supply the restaurant with produce from the Hawkesbury region. La Scala on Jersey also offer monthly winemaker’s dinners that take place in their private dining room, which can seat up to 26 guests.