Since the news broke that iconic Melbourne institution, MoVida would be opening an outpost in Auckland, we have waited in anticipation for our chance to sample the delicious food that has made this restaurant so globally acclaimed. So it is with great pleasure that we mark MoVida’s official opening — its arrival in the space that once was Ostro (on Level 2 of the Seafarers Building) not only a boon for the industry, but symbolic of the ways in which Auckland’s hospitality is maturing into something more indicative of our international appetites. Having been treated to an early preview of its Spanish-influenced cuisine, we can tell you with confidence that this is a new opening that everyone should be excited about, and with bookings open now, is one that we expect will be popular from the get-go.
MoVida’s Head Chef and Founder, Frank Camorra first brought his popular, Bourke Street restaurant to our shores nearly a decade ago with a pop-up at the restaurant whose place it has now taken. From there, a collaborative relationship blossomed between Camorra and hospitality pioneer (and one of the minds behind Savor Group) Lucien Law. So naturally, when looking for an international destination to set up MoVida’s next global outpost, the site where the restaurant had its first taste of New Zealand was an obvious choice. Reimagined by lauded local design studio Izzard Design, the Britomart space is unrecognisable, finished with gorgeous booth seating and a warm and welcoming vibe that feels distinct while still being inherently connected to the MoVida aesthetic we all know and love.
Food-wise, the MoVida menu is filled with joy, passion and creativity, where the cuisine is treated like a conversation, and diners are served flavoursome fare that plays into MoVida’s signature made-to-share, tapas style. Alongside a line-up of iconic MoVida dishes like Anchovy with Smoked Tomato Sorbet and Carrillera De Buey (very soft beef cheek braised in spiced red wine and sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry and served with cauliflower puree), sits a selection of wood-fired seafood dishes like paella, designed to capitalise on New Zealand’s abundant kai moana. The wood-fired oven is a MoVida first, but is something that Camorra tells me he is excited to utilise as a new vehicle for his culinary vision (as well as a way to show off the talent he has in his Auckland kitchen). As such, it has informed most of the dishes on the menu.
While nowadays, most dining establishments ground their menus in plates designed to share (it is almost impossible to find a place that doesn’t), when MoVida opened two decades ago, this idea was a novel concept. True to Camorra’s vision for the space, the original restaurant quickly became a pioneer in tapas-style dining, where guests were more than happy to sit at its bar and share food — while still enjoying a refined and polished experience.
“I think that was the most surreal moment in my career: realising that it worked and that by sticking at it, the MoVida bar became the place people wanted to sit,” Camorra reflects. “I think Auckland’s restaurant is very much of its own style and is different to the other restaurants, but still offering something that hasn’t been done very often outside of Spain.”
At its core, MoVida is a restaurant that offers vibrancy in every sense of the word. Drawing on nearly 20 years of success in Melbourne, the new Auckland destination offers a take that pays homage to its origins while feeling grounded in its own, individual context. When considering the MoVida legacy, two decades down the track, it feels like this is the beginning of something great.
Tuesday — Saturday, 12pm until late.
Closed Sunday & Monday.
Level 2 Seafarers, 52 Tyler Street,