When Sergio Maglione first arrived in New Zealand more than 20 years ago as a young, fresh-faced pizza chef from Italy, he dreamed of bringing the street food of his beloved birth city with him.
"Napoli, where I grew up, is a city that lives on the streets and every neighbourhood has its own speciality dishes. Maybe it's freshly made pasta or pizza or a plate of sardines, fried and served with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon and some olive oil. Whatever it is, it will be of the highest quality and prepared fresh and simple," he enthuses passionately in his adorable thick Italian accent.
Maglione made New Zealand his home, working hard as a chef and restaurateur, most recently as co-owner of the iconic Toto Restaurant. Now the dream has just got better with the opening of Farina, his new Italian eatery on Ponsonby Rd, with an old friend and now business partner, Mike Ross.
Together they've designed a space that is gorgeous with its sea-green and pearly white tile work, Warhol-esque artwork of Mt Vesuvius erupting in colour, shelves laden with gleaming jars of house-made pickles and preserves, and the impressive pasta machine taking pride of place in the open kitchen.
Diners can take a seat on the plush red corduroy banquet, at one of the communal wooden tables or can perch at the long marble counter, and choose dishes from the pastificio (fresh pasta station), salumeria with its cured meats and cheeses sliced to order, as well as from the pizzeria which will of course feature the famous Toto Italian pizza-by-the-metre and slow-cooked porchetta sandwiches. And there will be sardines, eggplant parmigiano, a daily ragu, skewered meats cooked over charcoal and much more. Farina, fresh and simple - we like that.
• Farina opens Monday May 5, then seven days, noon 'til late, walk-ins only. 244 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby. farina.co.nz