See it for yourself: the deliciously retro Maona Monte-Carlo relaunches to huge applause

After months, perhaps decades, of anticipation, Maona – the undisputed hot spot of the swinging 60s and 70s – has been recreated on the Larvotto Peninsula, and it’s already booked solid.

From the moment you walk into Maona, overlooking Monte-Carlo Beach, the eclectic energy of a bygone era is evoked. Black and white images of business, film and music stars, such as Mick Jagger, Michael Cain, Jack Nicholson and Liza Minelli, enjoying the locale in the 60s and 70s guide you to the reception, showing how the open-air cabaret was clearly the place to party the night away back then.

It is a nostalgia that has inspired the concept for this entirely new restaurant, lounge and bar. The elaborate fabrics and cushions embellished with graphic designs and fringing, and the rattan and bold colours show that Maona Monte-Carlo isn’t afraid of playing with colours and textures.

It is delightfully vintage and all class, without any of the kitsch.

Photos source: Monte-Carlo SBM

The place to celebrate the pleasures of summer

“We’re very true to the concept of Monaco in the 60s and 70s, post-wedding of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, when Monaco became the epicentre of the planet with a lot of Americanism,” Maona Manager Scott Messiah, a Monegasque native, tells Monaco Life. “Sammy Davis Junior and Dean Martin were playing at Jimmy’z, Mick Jagger and Michael Cain were regular guests… That’s what we’re trying to emulate here. For example, we only play music up to 1981.”

The cabaret features live musicians and singers performing everything from pure Italian classics to American piano bar favourites, while the DJ sets, created by the electro-collective Bon Entendeur, remixes classic hits and satisfies the contemporary need for beat.

The legend of Maona lives on

The name “Maona” is a tribute to two of its regular VIPs, the Greek diva Maria Callas (Ma) and her lover, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis (Ona). About a decade before the cabaret opened in 1962, Onassis had set up his oil company’s office in the villa formerly owned by Maire Blanc. Onassis was buying up large numbers of shares in the Monte-Carlo Casino at the time, and his extravagance and appreciation for Monaco’s opulence knew no bounds.

Whether they came from cinema, music or business, the greatest names in the world flocked to Monaco, and to Maona Monte-Carlo.

Monaco’s favourite open-air cabaret is reborn

This location, which had become an SBM (Société des Bains de Mer) hairdressers, has for the past two years been thoughtfully transformed back into an “outdoor experience”.

“What we’re trying to do here is a cocoon,” explains Scott. “We have three different universes: the Lounge Sauvage, which is an extension of the Bar Sauvage – because Josephine Baker used to do the danse sauvage, and that is a part of our universe. And then there is the main part of the restaurant that features this beautiful open kitchen, which is really important for us so that you can see that everything is fresh and prepared right in front of you.”

Photos source: Monte-Carlo SBM

A menu made by Monaco

The restoration of 1960s Monaco extends to this kitchen, headed by Chef Vincenzo Giordano, where the recipes including Monaco’s national dish of the barbagiuan have been sourced from the people who knew Monaco best.

“We held a competition among the 3,000 employees of SBM and said, ‘Please contact your grandmothers and ask them for their best recipe for barbagiuan’. So, this (pointing to a bowl of deliciously hot pastries) is the best recipe that we found. It is very different than any other you will try in Monaco. It’s literally the recipe of a Monegasque grandmother. We have six or seven recipes like that, including the little vegetables that are stuffed with anchovies, not the usual veal or pork, because Monaco used to be fishing village, and this is the real recipe of the Principality.”

Meanwhile, the famous Maona Monte-Carlo version of peach melba is a nod to the illustrious chef Auguste Escoffier, who made his mark in the Principality and revolutionised professional cooking.

There is also a tribute to the cuisine of Monaco’s neighbours on the Riviera, Portofino and Nice, with focaccia, lasagne and pissaladière. It is, quite simply, the best of three worlds.

Photos source: Monte-Carlo SBM

Signature Negronis and real retro cocktails

Snuggled between the lounge and the terrace restaurant is the Bar Sauvage, where expert mixologists skilfully led by Giancarlo Mancino have created Maona’s signature cocktail – the distilled Negroni – served over perfectly carved clear ice. They’ve even gone to the effort of securing 70-year-old Vermouth, London Dry Gin and Campari for guests to enjoy a truly exclusive 1950s Negroni, a nod to the wedding decade of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace (married 1956).

A VIP experience: the Tam Tam Room

For an intimate and unique experience, guests are able to book the Tam Tam Room, located upstairs and reserved exclusively for VIPs. Here, up to 15 privileged guests can enjoy a private space with spectacular views and personal service. It is a unique location to be seen, without being seen; perfectly discreet while being entirely in tune with Maona’s euphoria.

Give yourself plenty of time to reserve

Just three days after opening, Maona was booked solidly for two weeks. And as a summer venue only (there is literally no roof on this open-air restaurant), the clock is ticking to experience this very high-spirited and unique destination.

Once again, Monaco’s biggest hospitality group, the Société des Bains de Mer, has knocked it out of the park. Everything here – from the décor and ambience to the food and cocktails – is exceptional. Maona, as a legendary destination, not only lives on, it is forging a new notoriety among a generation of people seeking to enjoy ‘the art of living’.

Maona is open every day other than Tuesdays from 7pm to 2am. As of 1st September, the establishment will close at 1am. From 9th September, Maona will also be closed on Wednesdays. It will retire for the season on 1st October.

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Main photo source: Monte-Carlo SBM