Dreams are made of strolling along the Riveria and dining in quaint Italian restaurants. While we cannot take you there ourselves, here at Dish Cult we want to bring you that little taste of Italy. We hopped on our bright red Vespas, scooted around the city, and found the best pasta dishes Auckland could provide.
Pasta & Cuore
In the heart of Mount Eden lies the understated Pasta & Cuore, where pasta is god and quality cooking is a religion. This restaurant has captured the hearts of Aucklanders who have described it as the best pasta in the country. The restaurant is open from lunch through to dinner with a spectacular menu using locally sourced organic produce. What makes Pasta & Cuore so special is that they are in fact both a restaurant as well as a Pastificio- meaning they are an artisan shop where fresh pasta is made by hand. Walk past their shop-front window at any time of day and watch their chefs combining ingredients, kneading dough, and creating the most delectable homemade pasta. Their menu boasts everything from tortellini, tagliatelle, gnocchi, and ravioli. As of recently, we’ve particularly enjoyed the “Tortelloni ripieni di Ricotta di Bufala conditi con burro e salvia”, also known as Tortelloni stuffed with Buffalo Ricotta served with butter and sage. There are plenty of options for vegetarians and a completely separate menu for fresh pasta that you can purchase there to then cook at home. If you’ve got inlaws to impress or a hot first date, Pasta & Cuore has you absolutely covered.
If there is something we have learned about Italians is that they know good food. So, who better to place your trust in, than the Neapolitan chef himself Sergio Maglione? Maglione graced our lands 20 years ago and since then he has been a force to be reckoned with in the Auckland dining scene. His food is inspired by his hometown in Naples where street food meets fresh and simple cooking. You will find Farina is usually bustling from afternoon to evening with excited restaurant-goers sitting at the communal wooden tables or perched at the long marble counter. The menu feels sophisticated and authentic combining ingredients only a true Italian would understand. A particular favourite is the “Duck tortelloni” with a creamy brown butter sage sauce littered with sweet pomegranates. Their seafood option is also a must-try with a healthy serving of linguine, spicy Cloudy Bay tua tua clams in a pinot grigio and Italian parsley jus.
Non Solo Pizza
Well, the name says it all, Non Solo Pizza - Not Just Pizza. This Italian restaurant is asking you to broaden your horizons and delve deeper into the heart of Italian cooking and try something completely new and different. Seat yourself amongst the olive trees in their enchanting outdoor courtyard and let their exquisite cuisine take your tastebuds on a journey to Rome and back. Their “Ravioli Di Pollo” is a local treasure with housemade chicken & spinach ravioli with thyme, sage, basil, vine-ripened Campari tomatoes, and parmesan. Another absolute winner is the “Spaghetti All’assissina con Gamberi e Bottarga” meaning a hand-crafted spaghetti with tiger prawns, chilli, garlic, tomatoes, crayfish bisque, and bottarga. Notably, all of their pasta is made with free-range eggs and there are both gluten-free and vegetarian options available.
While Al Forno may be a while way from town, we can vouch this place is certainly worth the journey. The decor is bona fide Italian, transporting you to a seaside town along the Amalfi coast with its simplistic wooden tables, zesty orange walls, and an awning for sunshade. Our first choice is the lasagne which is layers of pasta carefully placed between servings of beef bolognese, bechamel sauce, housemade Napoletana sauce, and mozzarella cheese. When we are feeling particularly bold we like to go for the classic spaghetti carbonara combining ingredients like bacon, onion, egg yolk, Grana Padano cheese, and a creamy white wine sauce. If the pasta alone isn’t enough to convince you then perhaps the knowledge that Al Forno is actually a BYO establishment will. Grab your favourite bottle of pinot noir or sauvignon blanc and wash it down with any of these pasta dishes.
We couldn’t write a list about the best pasta dishes without including one of Auckland’s top Italian restaurants, Baduzzi. While we found it extremely difficult to choose just one of their pasta dishes after some great deliberation and many tastings later, we landed on their famous meatball dish. This Baduzzi delicacy is made up of salt-baked beetroot pappardelle, honey bug meatballs, crispy guanciale, and soft quail egg. This dish will leave even the most difficult critics wanting more.
To finish off our list is last but not least Amano. In 2017, Amano turned from Britomart’s most loved bakery into a heavenly restaurant. The restaurant is certainly grand with its tall marble ceilings and delicate wall hangings but its atmosphere, due to the excellent service, is both warm and inviting. This buzzing establishment prides itself in providing the freshest pasta experience in New Zealand. They use South Island grains in their on-site flour mill, and combine flour and free-range eggs from Whangarei to create beautiful hand-crafted pasta. What interests Aucklanders about Amano seems to be its ever-changing menu and the consistent quality of all of their dishes. You can rest assured that whatever linguini or ravioli touches your lips is made with the finest of ingredients. Just to wet your taste buds, why not try the “Gorgonzola triangoli”, which is made of Gorgonzola & parmesan egg dough pasta parcels with Northland sweetcorn, prosciutto, and sage.