Non Solo Pizza is steadily creating a monopoly on delicious Italian food in Parnell and their new casual eatery takes them once step closer to complete domination. Out the front of the acclaimed restaurant, and owned by the same people as the amazing Poderi Crisci on Waiheke, you'll find Osteria gracing a previously underused space with a new concept and fit-out.
They've done wonders with the slightly awkward space, covering its back wall in gleaming white tiles and the wall opposite in slightly wild green vines. The marble bar sits against Osteria's back wall and to its left you look through into Non Solo's spacious dining area. It feels and looks like opulence and luxury, Italian style.
Service is casual-yet-friendly, as our waitress promptly enquires where we'd like to dine tonight, before thoughtfully seating us by an outdoor heater. The drinks menu pleased the discerning drinkers among us, boasting a myriad of wines, Peroni on tap and a basic list of spirits. The food menu however is a little more complicated. Consisting of three main sections - the crudo bar, paninis and make your own cheese board - all items are titled in Italian which may be cause for confusion after a couple vinos.
Deciding to wing it, we dove head first into the make your own cheese board section, ordering grisini ($9), prosciutto ($10) vegetalli alla grigllia (grilled vegetables $6) and the ricotta and truffle cheese ($11). It arrived looking immaculate, carefully arranged on a dark wood chopping board. Upon the first bite I proclaimed that the prosciutto was 'the best I'd ever had' and would have said the same for the ricotta and truffle if I'd ever eaten anything like that. It was phenomenal, a small mound of pure white ricotta sitting on a bed of rocket and slathered in the richest truffle oil I'd ever tasted. The vegetables were also delicious, while the grisini, or breadsticks, were a little disappointing and snacky, but only because I had very little idea what they were when we ordered them.
Osteria is a prime spot for a drink and casual snack, purposed to draw in after-workers and hungry passers-by with the scent of cured meat, Italian wine and decadent cheese. It's intended to be a relaxing-yet-quick meal, always served with a wine and to be had over conversation. I can confirm it achieves these goals and then some, with what may just be the best selection of Italian cured meats, gourmet cheeses and fine wines in Auckland.