Max’s Restaurant

Max’s Restaurant at Red Hill Estate sits high on the southern side of the serenely beautiful Mornington Peninsula. The restaurant boasts panoramic sweeping views over precision planted vines, out to Western Port bay and Phillip Island beyond.

Max’s offers an award winning modern Australian menu, utlising the finest local produce wherever possible and also incorporating Max’s own range of produce, including 100% Mornington Peninsula Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Morello Cherry Balsamic Vinegar, Aged Morello Cherry Balsamic and Dukkah. Suggested wines are matched to each course from the Red Hill Estate range. With the most breathtaking views on the Mornington Peninsula, exquisite food and wine and a relaxing ambience, Max’s Restaurant at Red Hill Estate is a journey worth taking.

The restaurant is glass walled on three sides to provide optimal scenic views from every table and an open fireplace warms the room in the colder months. The restaurant is surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens with a Land for Wildlife ranking. Max’s host international guest chefs, a number of special dinners and events held annually.
Max’s was the first winery restaurant to be established in the region and enjoys iconic status in the area. The restaurant is known for its fine food, friendly service and, of course, the view. Max’s offers a total food and wine experience to every visitor. With our commitment to providing innovative food to match the outstanding cool climate wines produced by Red Hill Estate, together with the stunning surrounds, we believe we have a winning combination to offer the tourist, foodie and wine lover alike.

The team at Max’s Restaurant are thrilled to have been recognised with the following awards:

  • Hall of Fame – RACV Victorian Tourism Awards (following wins in 2010, 2011 & 2012)
  • Qantas Australian Tourism Awards – Silver 2012
  • Qantas Australian Tourism Awards – Bronze 2011
  • Qantas Australian Tourism Awards – Winner 2010
  • Lifestyle FOOD Favourite Modern Australian Restaurant 2009
  • Great Wine Capitals Best Wine Tourism Restaurant 2007
  • American Express Best Restaurant Regional Victoria 2002
  • American Express Overall Best Restaurant 2002

In addition to the restaurant, Max’s also owns and runs two delightful accommodation properties. Max’s Retreat is nestled in the charming village of Red Hill South, down a quiet country lane. This property offers 4 queen bedrooms, each with en suite and direct access to the lovely gardens via a private sundeck.

Max’s Cottage at Red Hill Estate is situated on the vineyard, overlooking Western Port Bay and Phillip Island. This renovated two bedroom cottage, previously the vineyard manager’s residence, provides two couples or a family with a unique rural getaway.
Both Retreats are fully self contained, with living and dining areas, as well as kitchen and barbeque facilities. Breakfast provisions are included in the nightly tariff and chef-catered dinner parties are available by prior arrangement.

MP Experience is Max’s latest venture, offering private small group tours of the Mornington Peninsula. The luxury Mercedes Vito can accommodate up to 8 people, and larger vehicles can be arranged for groups above this size. MP Experience prides itself on local knowledge and our experienced tour managers aim to give guests a unique and memorable experience every time. Our signature tour focuses on the ‘hidden gems’ of the region, meeting with winemakers, cheese makers and chocolatiers and taking part in hands on classes – a real treat for any foodie. Also available are wine tours, golfing tours and scenic/wildlife tours.

Chef Bio: Max Paganoni
Owner / Director Max’s at Red Hill Estate

The Owner and Director of Max’s Restaurant at Red Hill Estate, Max Paganoni has had many successes.

Max’s interest in food began at home, cooking for his family. Of Italian heritage and growing up on a small dairy and pig farm in Tyabb, Max is under no illusions as to where food comes from. “The Italian philosophy was that if you raised a farm animal, nurtured it and killed it kindly, then it would be happy for you to eat it.”

After attending Baxter Tech Max embarked on an apprenticeship at a Chinese Restaurant in Frankston, completing this apprenticeship at Baxter Provender (now Sages Cottage), where produce was home grown, animals reared and all were brought together on the menu.

As a chef, Max worked for Olympia Bortolotto in the early days of the Moorooduc Coolstores cooking for 300-350 a night. Seeking adventure, he set off to Europe and worked his way around as a barman, waiter and dishwasher, giving him a very good all-round knowledge of the hospitality industry, which was to come in handy later on. This also exposed Max to dealing with many different nationalities, something that has helped in catering to the needs of international guests at Max’s.

Returning refreshed from his adventures abroad Max needed a new challenge. After visiting Red Hill Estate for a wine tasting and seeing the potential of the property, which then, was only serving cheese platters, he submitted a proposal to Sir Peter Derham who agreed to an extension incorporating a restaurant. Established in 1993 and named Max’s at Red Hill Estate, this was the beginning of the first winery restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula.

During the late 1990s, Max opened another restaurant in Mornington, ‘Estasi’. It was a highly successful venture, and after four good years, Estasi was sold, due to growing commitments at Max’s Restaurant. Many of Estasi’s patrons followed him to Max’s and have been regulars ever since.

With Max’s Restaurant going strong, the Max’s brand includes another passion of his, travel. Operating small group tours through various regions of Italy, including Tuscany, Sicily and now Sardinia, this was a natural progression. Max conducts tours annually, with many of the tour participants being long-time diners at Max’s.

Max also runs Max’s Retreats bed and breakfasts with partner Marcus Bradford. They have a four bedroom converted school house in the township of Red Hill and the original estate’s farmhouse on the vineyard in Red Hill South, restored to a luxury two bedroom cottage.

Max’s Restaurant features Max’s own brand of produce, including the award winning 100% Mornington Peninsula Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Morello Cherry Balsamic and homemade Egyptian Dukkah spices. Max has increased this range to include various chutneys, relishes and sauces that appear on the restaurant’s menu, along with his gold medal winning Aged Morello Cherry Balsamic.

Since its beginning, Max’s Restaurant at Red Hill Estate has gone from strength to strength. It has won numerous awards, most notably Max’s Restaurant was inducted in to the Victorian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame in 2013, having been judged the state’s “Best Tourism Restaurant” for three years running. Max’s Restaurant was named “Best Tourism Restaurant” in the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards – a huge achievement for Max, who has worked tirelessly to promote both his business and the Mornington Peninsula region as a gourmet destination. Other notable awards include the American Express “Best Restaurant in Victoria”, “Best of Wine Capitals Best Winery Restaurant” and “Australia’s Favourite Modern Australian Restaurant” in the LifeStyle FOOD Channel’s I Love Food Awards.

Max caters for offsite events large and small. Max has personally catered for intimate dinner parties, wedding celebrations and was also the caterer of choice for the” International Cool Climate Wine Show” on the Mornington Peninsula, producing a sumptuous four course meal for 250+ people held at the Red Hill Showground’s, before this was moved to the Mornington Racecourse.

As Vice President of the Mornington Peninsula Gourmet Association, Max is passionate about the extensive range of top quality local produce available on the Peninsula and believes in utilising these ingredients wherever possible, on his menus. Max is also a member of Mornington Peninsula Tourism, Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association and the Mornington Peninsula Hinterland Tourism Association.

Max Paganoni enjoys the lifestyle on the Peninsula, riding his horses, dining at the many top class restaurants and a glass or two of the excellent cool climate wines (of course!).


Max's Restaurant at Red Hill - The Peninsula Picnic Mornington