While the majority of great restaurants on Waiheke are regularly attributed to being in the more-isolated areas, the island's village Oneroa contains a number of great dining destinations. With its view blocked by the Four Square across the road, Fenice probably wouldn't be the first port of call for those on a staycation and looking to eat down the main strip. However, the Italian eatery certainly stands up to its island brothers and sisters by ticking the all-important boxes of: honest ingredients and maximum flavour.
On deciding where to sit, the wee outdoor area will give you a tiny peak at the bay between shops, though you'll more than likely be absorbed in the characters that stroll along the main street. Inside, it's pleasant and homely thanks to nice lighting and an open fire. With the addition of simple flower arrangements and candles on each table, it gets extra points in the romance department.
The menu is rustic Italian/Mediterranean, the former being made clear through a nice selection of pizza and pastas, and the latter confirmed with olive oil slathered bread in the antipasti platter. Although a couple more slices of that bread would have been nice to finish off the selection of cured meats and vegetables, it ultimately proved to be the perfect amount and an ideal starter for two given the carb-heavy menu.
But there lies the conundrum. Will you head down the pizza trail? Take a second look at the pasta menu? Or choose one of the hearty mains? Fenice's pizzas take a similar road to the classic Napoletana-style with a 'less is more' approach. There are classics like Margarita, Prosciutto and Capricciosa - made up of salami, mushrooms, olives and anchovies. The mains cover most meat types: fish of the day, pork belly, duck breast and lamb rump, but it's the fresh-made pasta that will have your taste buds execute a running fist pump. A favourite is the mushroom ricotta ravioli, but if you're looking to treat yourself, go for the comforting option of parpadelle with confit duck, mushroom ragu, hazelnut, pecorino; it's worth the hefty $33 price tag.
If you'd prefer not to leave the comfort of your island getaway, or are perhaps running late for the ferry, all of the pizzas and pastas are available for take away too.
Arts & Entertainment
Saturday, August 1 - Saturday, November 7
Gus Fisher Gallery