Remuera's culinary culture has come to life. A meal out in the upper class suburb was once characterised by the presence of affluent humans, below par eggs benny and yappy pugs. Said individuals and mini dogs are still here, but they now occupy effortlessly chic eateries, serving some of the best food in Auckland.
A recent contributor to Remuera's culinary renaissance - Artusi - is an understated-yet-elegant Italian eatery, tucked off the main road in the leafy Village Green precinct. Visit and you'll be greeted by a tree adorned with countless fairy lights and Artusi's quaint wee outdoor courtyard - which is well populated despite the winter cold. Inside is even busier, soundtracked by clinking wine glasses, low chatter and an impossibly shrill cackle (evidently the cackle is sitting next to someone with a great sense of humour as it's ceaseless).
Anyway. The interior is understated and modern-yet-homely, featuring exposed brick walls, muted colours and an ornate gold framed mirror. It's a decor befitting of the cuisine, which is similarly modern and abundant with the comforting charm of real Italian food.
The menu is titled entirely in Italian and features a succinct selection of mains, entrees and appetizers including house made pasta, a phenomenal iteration of sardines on toast and several other unique dishes. Whatever you do, don't miss the Hapuka e riso di sepia ($28) - a perfectly cooked hapuka steak resting atop a squid ink risotto and slathered with a rich saffron sauce. Entree-wise the king prawns tossed in flambe with risotto ($18.50) are difficult to go past and the figs with ricotta and honey ($18) are similarly delicious. When it comes to dessert, you'll have already gorged yourself to the point of food coma but it's too good to miss. Go with the panna cotta with toasted pistachio ($12) for something light and delicious, or the Dolce di datteri ($12) - a dense sticky date pudding served with punchy ginger ice cream - perfect if you're after something more decadent.
Artusi is a rare find tucked away off Remuera's bustling main street, yet it's consistently occupied by regulars after being open for less than three months. It's easy to see why with such comforting and delicious Italian food, consistently impeccable service and such a charming location. Bellisimo.