The Classic — Clevedon mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt from Andiamo

Take your tastebuds on a journey to Rome at our favourite Italian restaurants

Auckland is known for boasting an eclectic mix of different cuisines from different cultures, but Italian food will always be one of the originals. This early exposure led to pasta and pizza becoming staple foods in our diets and as such, we deem it crucial for Aucklanders to be knowledgeable on where to find the best, quintessential Italian cuisine in the city. Numerous Italian restaurants have come and gone but there are a few that have secured their place in Auckland’s competitive restaurant scene, and here we round up the best of the best.

Andiamo — Herne Bay
This neighbourhood restaurant is not just a favourite among the locals of Herne Bay, but also among people from all around Auckland. Late last year, Nourish Group resurrected the Italian institution, leading to the return of Andiamo, bigger and better than ever before. The menu features a wide selection of Italian cuisine from pizzas, pasta dishes and antipasti but the stand-out at this eatery is the meatballs. Whether made with grass-fed beef, Southland lamb or wild pork, each delicious morsel is guaranteed to be juicy and full of flavour. The option of adding spaghetti as a way of soaking up the sauce is the real game changer as it elevates the appetiser to a full, indulgent main.

Amano — Britomart
Although Amano is relatively new to the Auckland dining scene, having transitioned into a restaurant from an artisanal bakery in just 2017, it has fast become one of the most popular eateries in our city. Amano exudes grandeur, with its marble fit-out, sky-high ceilings and floral hangings cultivating an ambience that is second to none. The menu is ever-changing depending on the seasonal availability but the burrata is one item that has been there since the beginning and we can’t see it disappearing any time soon. The burrata dish is modified depending on the produce that is in-season but the perfectly-made ball of creamy mozzarella cheese paired with housemade sourdough never fails to impress.

Amano Restaurant, Britomart

Gusto at the Grand — SKYCITY, Auckland CBD
Resoundingly successful chef, Sean Connolly is most recognised for his iconic steakhouse, The Grill but his Italian bistro — Gusto at the Grand measures up to his stellar reputation. Connolly has designed the menu to replicate the traditional dining style of Italian families with everything made to share. The orgy of mushrooms is a sensational dish and you’ll be blown away at the range of flavours the mushrooms offer. Paired with Clevedon buffalo ricotta gnocchi and a buttery sauce, this dish is a delightfully decadent experience.

Cotto — K’Road
From what began as a pop-up restaurant, Cotto has taken up permanent residence on K’Road, now bustling every night with diners who know that the dishes are nothing short of divine. Cotto likes to switch up the menu seasonally but there are a few, signature dishes that will always be available. The spinach and goats cheese dumplings, for example, are an absolute must-try when dining at Cotto, these little morsels may look simple but they explode with flavour. The thin sheets of dough are jam-packed with sauteed spinach, melted goats cheese and topped with fragrant sage leaves which also lends a light crispness to the soft, cheesy spheres.

Handmade ravioli at Cotto

Pasta & Cuore — Mt Eden
Don’t let the “spaghetti bolognese does not exist,” on the back of the waiters’ shirts put you off. Pasta & Cuore is an all-inclusive, welcoming restaurant with a friendly and warm ambience. The menu offers such a wide variety of handmade pastas and sauces, it’s almost overwhelming. When in doubt, go for the spaghetti alla chitarra conditi con crema di gorgonzola lomardo, noci selvatiche e foglie verdi, even if you have no idea what any of that means. Let’s break it down for you: The thick pasta is cooked al dente which leaves it with a soft exterior and slightly firm centre to achieve a chewy bite. The sauce is a reduction of creamy gorgonzola cheese and crunchy walnuts are scattered around the bowl to lend a beautifully nutty flavour.

Farina — Ponsonby
Sergio Maglione came to New Zealand over 20 years ago, straight from Italy where he was working as a pizza chef. His love for Italian cuisine followed him across the world and drove him to bring the streets of Napoli to Auckland. Farina, on Ponsonby Road, shows the versatility of Napoli cuisine all while nailing the classics. The pizza and pasta dishes are renowned for being the gold standard in Italian comfort food — authentic and divine — but it’s the way Sergio works his magic with octopus that blows us away every time. Whether it’s tossed in a fresh parsley salad with a drizzle of olive oil or paired with seasonal produce such as grilled sweetcorn, the octopus here is not to be missed.

Di Vino Bistro — Parnell
According to Denizen’s digital editor, Di Vino Bistro in Parnell is the go-to Italian restaurant that never lets them down. With traditional Italian fare, a cosy ambience and stellar service, Di Vino stays true to the simplistic nature of Italian cuisine allowing the freshness of the ingredients to shine through in the flavours of each dish. You can’t go wrong with any of Di Vino’s bruschetta and thankfully, the restaurant offers the option of mixing and matching the toppings. The pasta dishes are straight-forward, authentic and hearty, and hit the spot as much as if they were home cooked by Nonna herself.

Gusto Italiano — Ponsonby
Tucked away at the end of Ponsonby Road is another humble Italian eatery, Gusto Italiano. If you couldn’t already tell by its name, this restaurant prides itself on delivering authentic, Italian cuisine. Gusto Italiano showcases the carnivorous side of Italian food by having a menu that boasts a range of different meats and it’s most renowned for its anatra suprema — oven-roasted duck with fresh vegetables and creamy potato mash. In terms of pasta, it’s the tortellini e porcini e tartufo which steals the show. The housemade beef tortellinis are pan-sautéed in a rich and creamy truffle porcini sauce and finished with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan and Italian herbs.

Monzù — Dominion Road
Gaetano Spinosa is a man with a true passion for cooking and is the maestro behind Monzù on Dominion Road. Chef Spinosa is fearless when it comes to creating new dishes which is why the menu changes on a daily basis, depending on which seasonal produce is at its best. If you’re feeling adventurous, head over to Monzù and trust Spinosa to make the decisions for you. Always remember to save extra room for dessert as this is one of the very few places in Auckland where you can bite into a sfogliatelle. The delicate, layered Italian pastry is a rare find in this town and one of many specialities by Monzù.

Pasta from Monzù

Prego — Ponsonby Road
Prego has been in action since 1986 and it isn’t about to slow down any time soon. Over the many years, the Ponsonby institution has captured the hearts of locals, forming loyal base of patrons and a tight-knit community, ultimately making it one of the best family restaurants this town has to offer. Ask any waiter or waitress at Prego for recommendations and not a single one will fail to mention the risotto all’anatra. The creamy risotto is elevated with an infusion of aged balsamic and has chunks of tender duck interspersed throughout the bed of arborio rice. The grated grana padano cheese melts over the risotto to enhance the creaminess, making every single bite as indulgent as the last.

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