Auckland is known for an eclectic mix of cuisines from different cultures but Italian food is undoubtedly one of the originals. 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 of where to find the best, quintessential Italian cuisine in the city. Numerous Italian eateries 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.
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 six different variations, ranging from the simple tomato, oregano and confit garlic to pork sausage with tomato, mozzarella, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms and finished with aromatic truffle oil.
472 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn
Deli Di Bossi
Located in The Pacifica laneway, DELI di BOSSI is delivering an authentic taste of Italy to punters in the CBD, offering a selection of fine sliced meats and cheeses, freshly-made pasta and breads, aromatic coffee and specialised Italian street food. Think prosciutto pizza fritta and calzone stuffed with passatta, mozzarella and basil; sandwiches with mortadella or salami di Milano; indulgent ricotta-filled cannoli with chocolate or pistachio; fresh caprese and panzanella salads and a selection of salumi boards; the perfect destination for an inner city lunch.
10 Commerce Street, Auckland CBD
This neighbourhood restaurant is not just a favourite among the locals of Herne Bay, but also among people from all around Auckland. 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, or Hawkes Bay lamb, 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
With its beautifully curved archways, rustic wall details and soaring, glass-roofed atrium, the dining space 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 worth trying too.
454 Great North Road, Grey Lynn
From what began as a pop-up restaurant, Cotto has taken up permanent residence on Karangahape 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.
375 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD
Chef Fabrizio Napolitano grew up in his grandmothers’ 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 have opened Spiga in the 1050 development to the back of the Remuera shops. Their contemporary classic starters, pizza and pasta are unsurpassable, although you should always try the seasonal specials, including truffle cod fish and squid ink pasta mille-feuille with broccoli purée and salmon roe. Pair with a wine list that will take you on a tour of some of the finest Italian wines and spirits.
Shop 1/E/415 Remuera Road, Remuera
Amano has fast become one of the most popular eateries in Auckland 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.
68 Tyler Street, Britomart
The humble yet incredibly delicious meals that can be found at the most unassuming neighbourhood trattorias were central to Pici’s inspiration, and as is the way of it these days, Pici’s menu is designed to share. A selection of antipasti kicks off the tasty offering, and everything is thoughtfully considered. Focaccia is the ideal companion to anything on the menu; we suggest using it to ferry into your mouth vibrant heirloom tomatoes paired with creamy stracciatella and lifted with white balsamic reduction, or the bresola with thyme and horseradish. Here, the namesake pici is a must for fans of cacio e pepe, while the spaghettini 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 sing nothing but praises of this beloved spot.
St Kevin’s Arcade, 183 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD
Pasta & Cuore
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
409 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden
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, the octopus here is not to be missed.
244 Ponsonby Road, 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.
263 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
Non Solo Pizza
While it’s rude to talk about a lady’s age, you have to admit that the much-loved NSP is looking remarkably good after opening it’s door to fans of carbohydrates for some 25 years. The menu is as versatile as the spaces within the complex, from the bustling upfront bar to the cosy courtyard and main dining area. The 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 you favourite pizza style, or just default to the classic NSP margherita.
1052/259 Parnell Road, Parnell
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.
226 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby