Jesse Mulligan’s Auckland Restaurant Recommendations: City’s Best Tiramisu; Eatery That’s The New Soul Bar

By Jesse Mulligan
Hotel Ponsonby's interior palette is a nod to the landmark's character. Photo / Babiche Martens

In this fortnightly series, Viva’s resident dining out editor shares his sage advice on exactly where to eat in Auckland. He’s eaten a lot of bad meals, so you don’t have to.

Here are some questions he’s been asked lately, and what he told them.

Bivacco has tables inside and outside on the waterfront. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Bivacco has tables inside and outside on the waterfront. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Hi Jesse,

I’m looking to

Thanks so much, Michelle

Hi Michelle,

It sounds like you’re after somewhere that’s a bit of fun. Put Bivacco high on your list — there are plenty of outdoor tables, the menu is extensive and vegetarian-friendly and, yes, they do great cocktails. In a way, they’re the new Soul, though there’s nothing wrong with the old Soul. They’re both in the Viaduct, though arguably Soul has a little more of a view if you’re at the right table.

Could I tempt you up to Hotel Ponsonby? It’s perhaps not technically central city, but close enough I think, unless you’re planning on walking from Shortland St. They have a whole courtyard of sunshine, and the vibe is great. You might miss the water views but you’ll have plenty of people to look at. Order the cucumber, served with shreds of stretchy stracciatella and spicy chilli oil. Good luck!

Bossi's lush interior. Photo / Babiche Martens
Bossi's lush interior. Photo / Babiche Martens

Hi Jesse,

My elderly grandparents are visiting in April and they want to take me somewhere “nice” (I have a good job and probably earn twice as much as they ever did but they still feel it’s their job to pay for me when they’re in town!). My grandfather in particular is getting a little frail and... I’d want to avoid a long walk or a big set of stairs. But they’re both adventurous eaters (probably more adventurous than their granddaughter, if I’m honest) so no need to send us to Tony’s Steakhouse.

From Imogen

Hi Imogen,

I think Homeland would be a nice choice. Your grandparents have probably heard of Peter Gordon so the chance to see him doing his thing in the kitchen might be a nice highlight of a meal in Auckland city. Plus, the food is great and it’s a lovely spot on the waterfront — they may have even gone to a wedding there when it was called Mantell’s back in the day. Parking and access are easy and elderly (also wheelchair) friendly.

If you think they’d appreciate somewhere a bit more flash, take them to Bossi in Commerce St. You might want to get a taxi or drop them off at the door but the entrance is right on the street and if you specify you’d like a downstairs table, it’ll be very easy to get in and out.

Or take them out to Dominion Rd for a meal at Cazador, a street-level restaurant that has kept both young and old happy for more than 25 years. If they’re the sort of people that complain you can never find offal on the menu anymore, chef Dariush’s quail hearts should keep them happy (and for you, there are plenty of other delicious, less gruesome options).

The tiramisu at Spiga in Remuera. Photo / Babiche Martens
The tiramisu at Spiga in Remuera. Photo / Babiche Martens

Jesse, you recommended the tiramisu at Pasta & Cuore recently. Who does the best tiramisu in Auckland, do you reckon?

Thanks, Mike

Hi Mike,

For me tiramisu isn’t something that can be ranked — it’s more like something which is perfect, so long as you don’t mess it up. But, aside from Pasta & Cuore, here are some places where they don’t mess it up.

Spiga does a good one, and it’d be a nice chance to check out their expanded digs in Remuera while you’re there — if you want to balance the dessert with some greens, pick up some nasturtium pesto from the deli on the way out. Baduzzi has a lovely tiramisu, though you might opt for the rice pudding instead of/as well as. Lilian does one which is light and wonderful — as close as I’ve ever come to handing out a gold medal for this dish.

And if your friends give you stick about a lack of imagination when it comes to ordering dessert, check out the “trifle” at Amano. It’s made with coffee and mascarpone and might be the perfect place to pretend you’re branching out when really you’re just ordering tiramisu.

Viva dining out editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens
Viva dining out editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens

Any questions? Give Jesse as much info as you can. What do you like? How much do you want to spend? If you’re just visiting, where are you staying while you’re in town? Who are you eating with? Does anybody have access issues?

Email Jesse at and tell him what you need.

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