Serving up inventive Japanese-Italian fare in the heart of Ponsonby, Itameshi is the tasty new fusion restaurant well worthy of your attention. The name Itameshi means Italian food in Japanese, and here, you’ll find a host of impressive dishes that combine the two cuisines beautifully, marrying the hearty, wholesome flavours of Italian fare with the fresh, lightness of Japanese dishes to create a new take entirely — and one that we can’t get enough of.
With a calm, spacious fit-out by hospitality design studio, Millé, Itameshi (located on Williamson Ave) has all the makings of a chic Italian trattoria. Here, you’ll find deep wooden fittings, green-hued accents and hardy concrete flooring, with Japanese art scattered throughout adding a touch of playfulness and vibrancy to the space.
Perch at the marble-topped bar, or take to one of the leather-lined banquette seats throughout and select a cocktail before taking your time to peruse the concise, incredibly creative menu. If you’re visiting for brunch, you’ll find the likes of matcha green tea hotcakes (a dish made for Instagram), where a cluster of pillowy soft pancakes is topped with strawberry mascarpone, fresh fruit, and maple butter. Or if it’s savoury flavours that you’re craving, look no further than the unagi scramble sandwich, or the miso carbonara — sure to become an instant icon.
If it’s drinks and dinner that draws you in (cocktails are available from 10am, meaning drinks and brunch is also entirely acceptable), you’ll do well to start on a selection of snack plates to share. Our order? Spicy Karaage chicken with caviar, the Sicilian sashimi with orange sauce, onion, caper, parsley and shiso olive oil, and the delectable soy beef carpaccio with parmesan cheese, puff rice, soy sauce reduction land cress and spring onion oil .
Moving on to mains, while the brown butter ribeye and parmesan pork katsu are sublime, it’s the pasta dishes that truly bring the melding of these two disparate cuisines to life. The tomato beef cheek ragu with Japanese curry and spiced cheese is a flavour sensation that feels entirely new, while the Mentaiko house-made pasta with caviar and dashi butter sauce is perfection; the lobster bisque iteration with butter prawn, masago, and chive is a failsafe crowdpleaser. And you’re missing a trick if you don’t finish on the matcha tiramisu.
The drinks list is exceptionally considered, too, with coffee, matcha, and smoothies available alongside quenching cocktails (the sake martini is a must) and a curated wine list.
Bringing an entirely new style of fare to Auckland’s dining scene, it’s no surprise that Itameshi’s verdant booths are filling up fast. Be sure to get in quick.
Monday to Friday 7.30am — 3pm & 5pm — 10pm
4 Williamson Ave