Auckland is known for its eclectic mix of cuisines from different cultures but Italian restaurants are undoubtedly one of the most popular. Now, delectable pasta and pizza have become staple foods in our diets and as such, we think it is crucial to know exactly where to find the best Italian cuisine in Auckland. Numerous eateries have come and gone but there are a few that have secured their place in our competitive restaurant scene. Here we round up the best of the best. Buon appetito!
Neighbourhood favourite Lilian’s menu draws from many European influences but it’s the Italian-inspirations that are almost impossible to overlook, with the wood-fired pizzas threatening to steal the entire show. The bases are cooked perfectly in a speciality pizza oven imported all the way from Italy. The toppings come in seven different variations, ranging from the simple tomato, mozzarella and confit basil to pork and fennel sausage, mushroom, tomato cream, oregano and a healthy helping of parmesan.
472 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn
Since opening with great aplomb at the end of last year, Bivacco has become a go-to destination for a delicious long Italian lunch. Under the guidance of Head Chef Ryan Moore, the food here is unparalleled, and is made even more perfect when enjoyed overlooking the sparkling waters of Viaduct Harbour with one of Bivacco’s delicious cocktails in hand. And while you really can’t beat the margherita pizza here, those craving something more lavish will find it in the goats cheese ravioli, adorned with witloof, burnt honey and pistachio. Perfecto.
115 Customs Street West, Auckland CBD
With its beautifully curved archways, rustic wall details and soaring, glass-roofed atrium, the dining space at Ada is striking yet welcoming, and the interior is just the beginning of all things marvellous. Ada’s menu comprises sharing plates that embrace the foolproof philosophy of simplicity done well, with a menu of seasonal, Italian-influenced dishes and approachable natural wine. Our recommendation is the pizza fritta, always, but we think the seasonal pastas are most definitely worth trying too.
454 Great North Road, Grey Lynn
This neighbourhood restaurant is not just a favourite among the locals of Herne Bay, but also attracts people from all over Auckland. When Nourish Group (now Foley Hospitality) resurrected the Italian institution, it saw 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, or cod and crayfish, 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.
194 Jervois Road, Herne Bay
From what began as a pop-up restaurant, Cotto impressed with its permanent residence on Karangahape Road, and is bustling every night with diners who know that the dishes here 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. These little morsels may look simple but they explode with flavour. The thin sheets of dough are jam-packed with sautéed spinach, melted goats cheese and topped with fragrant sage leaves which also lends a light crispness to the soft, cheesy spheres.
375 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD
Chef Fabrizio Napolitano grew up in his grandmother’s kitchen, in both the north and south of Italy. With a passion for artisanal products that are steeped in history and respect, Fabrizio and his wife Taryne opened Spiga in the 1050 development at the back of the Remuera shops. Their contemporary classic starters, pizza and pasta are some of the best we’ve tried, although we also recommend always sampling the seasonal specials, including anchovy and pistachio carbonara with squid ink Maccheroncini latini. The food is made all the better with Spiga’s comprehensive wine list that will take you on a tour of some of the finest Italian vineyards and spirits.
Shop 1/E/415 Remuera Road, Remuera
Long established as one of the most popular eateries in town, Amano is a stalwart that exudes grandeur. With its marble fit-out, sky-high ceilings and floral hangings. Here, the menu is ever-changing depending on 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 dish is modified depending on the produce that is in-season but the perfectly-made ball of creamy mozzarella paired with housemade sourdough never fails to impress.
68 Tyler Street, Britomart
While never endeavouring to be the most authentic Italian joint in town. It would be remiss not to mention the pasta on offer at Soul Bar & Bistro. With more traditional dishes cementing themselves as classics, we always find ourselves gravitating towards Executive Chef Gavin Doyle’s pasta out of a sheer craving for comfort. The Crayfish Lasagne, layered with vodka sauce and bisque velouté, is hearty and indulgent. But it is the New Zealand Scampi Spaghetti, with diavola sauce and kina, that we relentlessly return to.
Corner of Lower Hobson Street and Customs Street West, Auckland CBD
The humble yet incredibly delicious meals that can be found at the most unassuming neighbourhood trattorias were what originally inspired Karangahape Road favourite. Pici, from its intimate dining room to its mouthwatering menu which is designed to share. Here, you simply cannot pass up the cacio e pepe. Although the fettuccine vongole is also popular; full of flavour yet light and fresh with juicy local clams, chilli and herbs. While tables are limited, those lucky enough to dine here have nothing bad to say about this beloved spot.
St Kevin’s Arcade, 183 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD
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 Gorgonzola. 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 with crunchy walnuts scattered around the bowl to lend a beautifully nutty taste.
409 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden
Sergio Maglione came to New Zealand more than 20 years ago, straight from Italy where he was working as a pizza chef. 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 Maglione works his magic with octopus that blows us away every time.
244 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
With its warm and inviting space, adorned with surprising tones of peach and vibrant blue, Herne Bay’s Squisito Trattoria offers more than just simple and delicious Italian cuisine. The menu here is a fusion of culinary influences from all corners of the Mediterranean. Anchored in al dente pasta, perfectly-cooked meats, and wood-fired pizza. Notably, Squisito leaves out a wine list and encourages guests to choose their own by selecting from the extensive wine racks.
170A Jervois Road, Herne Bay
Tucked away at the end of Ponsonby Road is another humble Italian restaurant, Gusto Italiano. If you couldn’t already tell by its name, this restaurant prides itself on delivering authentic, Italian cuisine. In terms of pasta, it’s the Ravioli Verdi which steals the show. The housemade green parcels are stuffed with chicken and fresh spinach, before being are pan-sautéed with aromatic herbs and vine-ripened tomatoes, and topped with a decent helping of parmesan.
263 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
While it’s rude to talk about a lady’s age, you have to admit that the much-loved NSP is looking remarkably good considering it originally opened its doors some 25 years ago. The menu here is as versatile as the spaces within. From the bustling upfront bar to the cosy courtyard and main dining area. Our first order is always the calamari. The batter is light and tossed in fresh lemon juice to cut the richness of the fried coating. A melange of salt, cracked pepper and parsley are utilised to season the dish and is served with decadent aioli to offer a creamy balance. From there let your stomach guide you towards your favourite pizza, or just default to the classic NSP margherita. Whatever you choose here, you can’t go wrong.
1052/259 Parnell Road, Parnell
Despite opening nearly a year ago, you’d still itsbe hard-pressed to find a table at this Dominion Road spot, which is a testament to it’s divine offering. Here, the traditional wood fire is the predominant method of cooking almost every dish, including (of course) Ooh-Fa’s delicious pizzas. Ideal for sharing, but the perfect size to keep to yourself. Our favourites are the tomato, garlic and oregano (with the essential added stracciatella), and the mushroom, gorgonzola, mozzarella and parmesan. Be sure not to look past the famed woodfired carrots, served with ricotta and pistachios — a totally moreish addition. We’d eat them every day if we could.357 Dominion Road, Mount Eden
Serving its much loved take on Italian fare since 1986, Prego isn’t about to slow down any time soon. Over the many years, the Ponsonby institution has captured the hearts of locals. Forming a loyal base of patrons and a tight-knit community, ultimately making it one of the best family restaurants this town has to offer.
226 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby