Two of New Zealand's biggest names in food and business have joined forces to bring Kiwis a taste of Northern Italy.

Top chef Ben Bayly and well-known jeweller and philanthropist Sir Michael Hill will soon open a new Italian-inspired restaurant in Arrowtown.

Named Aosta - after the small Italian town Bayly once lived - the Central Otago restaurant promises hearty dishes of ragu and braises, pasta, risotto and gnocchi and flavourings of saffron and truffle.

Read more: Kim Knight catches up with one of New Zealand's best chefs

Advertisement

"I'm really excited because I've had my eye on this part of the world and I think being here is going to make me a better cook," Bayly said.

"I'm excited to put down roots and am so looking forward to getting to know the region in terms of produce and foraging."

Top chef Ben Bayly, Sir Michael Hill and local architect Anna-Marie Chin have created a slice of Italy in Arrowtown. Photo / Kate Roberge
Top chef Ben Bayly, Sir Michael Hill and local architect Anna-Marie Chin have created a slice of Italy in Arrowtown. Photo / Kate Roberge

Bayly, who was twice named New Zealand Chef of the Year when he was executive chef at The Grove, owns The Grounds in West Auckland, and was the executive chef at Auckland's Baduzzi, was Sir Michael Hill's first choice.

As a food lover and keen home cook, Hill and business partner Vicky Onions said securing Ben Bayly was the main aim.

"As soon as we started to discuss it we said how do we get Ben Bayly here," Hill said.

"We wanted to work with the best people and that is what we have from the best maitre d, the best designer and architect and Ben in the kitchen.

"People, in the long run, are what makes the difference - creating the right atmosphere to make people feel relaxed and at home."

Hill, 80, wanted a restaurant that was like an extension of his own home and he said that is what had been created.

His whole family has some part to play in the business and wife Christine has illustrated the menu.

Hill even had award-winning architect Anna-Marie Chin, who designed the jeweller's Arrowtown home, design the restaurant.

Sir Michael Hill, architect Anna-Marie Chin and chef Ben Bayly are looking forward to the opening in Arrowtown next Saturday. Photo / Kate Roberge
Sir Michael Hill, architect Anna-Marie Chin and chef Ben Bayly are looking forward to the opening in Arrowtown next Saturday. Photo / Kate Roberge

Bayly said the 45-seater restaurant was going to be "inmate and bustling."

"I don't want to hear the knife tink on the plates."

Bayly said the restaurant would not be "fine dining with white table cloths" but will be "bloody good."

"People will come and have a really great experience."

The pair and Onions also want to "give back" to the Arrowtown community.

Children at Arrowtown Primary School are being taught how to grow the best herbs for the restaurant - and they will be paid for their endeavours.

"They will be growing in the next three weeks, all of our herbs such as basil and coriander," Onions said.

"It will give them a taste of how a business works and they will see a return, with the money going back to the school.

And, as Aosta will be an extension of his own home, Hill plans to eat at his newly created restaurant often.

"People can expect a meal that comes out quickly, it will be beautiful, it will be fresh, it won't be prohibitively expensive and if it is all of those things, why wouldn't I eat there a few times a week?

"The aim of all of this we wish to have the finest restaurant in the South Island but we want people to feel relaxed and at home here."

Aosta opens next Saturday.