Where to Find the Best Italian Food in Auckland
Pizza that feeds the soul and pasta that warms the heart — here are 13 authentic establishments to have your fill without trekking back to the old country.
Whether you're after the perfect wood-fired pizza or a heart-warming bowl of pasta, choosing the right Italian restaurant to dine at is important. We've taken this challenge upon ourselves to help you narrow down where to experience the best Italian Auckland has to offer.
Nestled in Remuera's Village Green away from the main road distractions is a neighbourhood secret. Established for just under two years, Artusi is still a relative newcomer to the surrounding area but the ethos behind the restaurant spans much further back. Artusi Cucina is named after a 19th century Italian culinary who wrote the legendary cookbook 'The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well'. Locals enjoy authentic Italian cuisine under the fairy-lit outdoor seating area with the jazzy vibes of Amy Winehouse playing lightly in the background. A must have dish is the housemade spaghetti with baby octopus, prawns, muscles and a pinch of chilli.
Tyler Street is home to a breathtaking 110 year-old building and taking up residence is Hipgroup's Amano. Hanging from the ceiling as you walk in are bunches of hydrangeas, dried wheat and species exuding a welcoming aroma. Amano, meaning 'made by hand', prides itself on fresh and seasonal dishes. Shelves of handcrafted loaves line the exposed brick walls leading round to the open kitchen and central bar. Here you'll observe housemade pasta being rolled, shaped and pressed. The secret to success? Housing its very own wheat mill behind the scenes. Used specifically for homemade pastas it enables Amano to deliver some of the freshest pasta from kitchen to table in the country.
BADUZZI, WYNYARD QUARTER
Like something off the streets of New York is Michael Dearth's, owner of The Grove, and executive chef Ben Bayly's most recent collaboration. The stained glass windows and plush leather booths of Baduzzi really set the scene for an authentic Italian dining experience. Baduzzi's menu is succinctly sophisticated with pasta, meatballs and mains. Hard to pass up is the ever popular flame-grilled sardines with pine nuts, white raisins, crumbled feta and a light drizzling of olive oil. Well renowned for its meatballs, Baduzzi has perfected the smokey, melt-in-your-mouth crayfish meatballs as well. If crayfish isn't your thing, turn to the wagyu option. Coated in their every own housemade onion gravy, these are sure to impress, too.
If you're after dining al fresco before this warmer weather disappears then Prego is where you should be headed. Prego's intimate courtyard is perfect for those aperitifs late into the afternoon and the true sense of European-style dining at night. Having made waves in Auckland's gastronomic scene for over 22 years, Prego's menu is refined, tried and tested. We recommend starting your Italian culinary journey with the delicately stuffed arancini but really, you can't go wrong whatever you start with. We would follow that course with Prego's succulent roast lamb dish complete with caramelised onion and truffle oil — it's drool worthy.
PASTA & CUORE, MT EDEN
Celebrating fine Italian food in the heart of Mt Eden is Pasta & Cuore. From parma ham to parmesan cheese, Pasta & Cuore is as authentic as they come — minus the airfare. The shopfront serves as a counter top to some of the most delicate and intricate pastas the village has on offer. Carry yourself through to the back and you'll find a cosy courtyard with small round tables and lush foliage encompassing the area. Known for intriguing tortelloni fillings, Pasta & Cuore's simple nutmeg, parmesan, parsley and ricotta combination has the hearts of purists racing.
NON SOLO PIZZA, PARNELL
Situated on Parnell Road, Non Solo Pizza has become a household name for most locals. It's well known for its seamless integration of a curb-side wine bar and bustling restaurant hidden behind. NSP's menu opens the door of exquisite Italian flare to its Auckland patrons and impresses every time. Whether it's a quick business meeting, an extended lunch or destination dinner, NSP plays host to most situations. It comes as no surprise that pizza is the specialty. Wood-fired to perfection, Non Solo Pizza has 14 different topping options. One not to miss out on is the Porchetta. With a smokey cheese, spicy greens, mozzarella, and of course the homemade porchetta on top, it's hard to look past on the menu.
Long standing as one of the trendiest spots in Ponsonby is SPQR and it's everything in the sense of a well oiled machine. From its presentable, long-aproned wait staff, exceptional wine list and meticulous food menu, it's clear why. SPQR is renowned for hosting the cities elites and adhering to Auckland's latte sipping culture. SPQR's elegance extends further than the restaurant's white table cloths and beautifully presents itself as you flick through the seasonal dishes on offer. Well known for its veal scaloppine that comes parmesan crumbed and truffle oil dripped, you can pair this with a bottle of Italy's finest, too. SPQR has gone as far to import its own selection of Italian wines which comes as a separate list to order from.
DANTE'S PIZZERIA, PONSONBY CENTRAL
Tucked in-between the pop-ups and fresh produce of Ponsonby Central is Dante's Pizzeria. Challenging our pre-convinced idea of fast food are Dante's Napoletana pizzas which are cooked in a brick oven for 90 seconds or less. The man hours to create the perfection that is a Dante's pizza is put in well before you place your order. The dough itself takes four days to make and is then hand-stretched. If that's not what makes a Dante's pizza one of the best pizzas in Auckland, maybe it's the combination of Italian's finest and New Zealand's freshest toppings that does it.
PODERI CRISCI, WAIHEKE ISLAND
COCO'S CANTINA, KARANGAHAPE ROAD
Coco's is part of the backbone that holds up K' Road and certainly defines it — it's colourful, loud, honest and full of character. Even when you sit outside, you will be toasty, partly because of the heaters, but mainly because of the warmth of the staff (cue cheese). They are friendly, honest and true to their t-shirts which read "Be Kind". The food coming out of Coco's is the other reason you want to be a regular here. Delicious portions of ravioli, spaghetti and a chargrilled scotch steak that you will struggle to finish and then want to order again the next day. The menu is small, changes often but without messing with the classics. A yummy wine list, checkered table cloths and candles complete the experience.
Farina is the brainchild of Sergio Maglione, nephew of the aforementioned Antonio Crisci. The Ponsonby eatery serves pared-back Italian cuisine, heavily influenced by street food from the motherland and, as owner Sergio Maglione promises, "always fresh and simple". Previously hosting Toto's legendary pizza on the menu, Farina now cranks out its own thanks to an authentic Valoriani oven. The restaurant is now also part of the APVN, meaning they only use traditional ingredients and processes. The above beauty is the Boscaiola, a mix of mushroom, mozzarella, cream, spinach, pine nuts and truffle oil. Also hit the burrata-topped pizza and the heart-warming lamb shank ragu pappardelle.
GUSTO AT THE GRAND, CBD
Sean Connelly's Gusto at the Grand is a rustic Italian restaurant, serving uncomplicated, fresh and seasonal fare. It's probably the ideal place for a special occasion splurge or long, boozy lunch, but Gusto also serves a European-style buffet and a la carte breakfast. Lunch and dinner dishes are designed to share, and our recommendations include the salsa verde lamb cutlets and the pappardelle with wild boar ragu. A fun bonus is the open pasta-making station, where you can watch chefs knead, mold and cut fresh pasta for the kitchen. There's also a gorgeous wee espresso bar at the entrance offering everything from detox smoothies to flat whites.
Monzù encompasses what Southern Italy is all about: simple, yet fresh and flavourful dishes that have you coming back for more. Subject to change every day, Monzù's menu honours Southern Italian fare through fresh ingredients and culinary expertise. It's the successful combination of simplicity, authenticity and passion that makes Monzù unique. A dish worth mentioning is Monzù's gnocchi. Cooked to perfection in black truffle, the aroma itself has you salivating before the first bite.
Additional writing: Carli Eger, Skye Pathare.
Feature image: Lauren Harrigan.
Published on April 12, 2018 by Tony Collins