Jesse Mulligan’s Auckland Restaurant Review: Bossi Is The High-End-Meets-Authentic Italian Restaurant Auckland Has Been Waiting For

By Jesse Mulligan
The tiramisu, vongole, culurgiones and saltimbocca on the menu at new Italian restaurant Bossi. Photo / Babiche Martens


Cuisine: Italian

Address: 10 Commerce St, central city

Phone: (09) 948 0906


Reservations: Accepted

From the menu: Oysters $6.5ea; culurgiones (dumplings) $26; gnocchi cacio e pepe $28; spaghetti vongole $29; saltimbocca $40; tiramisu $26

Rating: 18/20

Score: 0-7 Steer clear. 8-12 Disappointing, give it a

I approached Bossi not with low expectations, but with no expectations. I didn’t know the owner, hadn’t heard of the chef and had read nothing online.

And the location. What does “10 Commerce St” even mean? I couldn’t picture it. As we approached I realised it was in what I will indelicately refer to as “The Strip Club District”, joining such attractions as The White Lady and, on the night we visited, a woman with a supermarket trolley nursing a dying seagull.

But I had an open mind, because when Italian is good, it is very, very good, and one thing missing from the local scene is a fancy place to eat it. I had a few happy meals at The Langham’s Barulho back in the day but since then new openings have been at the cheaper end of the market (it’s a business model that works — offering change from $20 for dishes that look good on Instagram).

The bills can be big at Amano and Bivacco but, at each, you’re definitely in a New Zealand restaurant — you could never squint your eyes and pretend you were in Rome, or even Manhattan.

"Bossi is a beautiful purpose-built room that does remind you of New York." Photo / Babiche Martens
"Bossi is a beautiful purpose-built room that does remind you of New York." Photo / Babiche Martens

Well I’m pleased to tell you that Bossi is the restaurant Auckland has been missing. Fancy but friendly, precise but unfussy, it offers a menu of regional favourites from no region in particular. You will eat dishes you’ve never heard of here, alongside better versions of dishes you thought you knew.

How good is the menu? Our waiter had to pinch himself.

“When I saw the sbrisolona, I couldn’t believe it!” he said. “My nonna used to make this, while I was pulling at her apron asking ‘When will it be done? When will it be done?’”

I loved this guy, who left another high-profile Italian restaurant because it wasn’t Italian enough for him. Now, he has found his home — where they cook granularly authentic dishes from the beautiful country, alongside wine that has travelled halfway around the world, almost.

“I would like to serve you a vermentino,” he said when I requested something white.

“Sounds good to me,” I said

" ... but it is stuck. On a ship.” He reported. “So I will pour the grillo.”

The grillo was good too. I am never happier than drinking white Italian wine before a meal, knowing that it will taste even better when the food arrives.

We started with a plate of spaghetti vongole — the pasta handmade and impossibly fine, the white wine and butter perfectly emulsified to create a sauce almost like a soup, along with subtly sweet clams the size of my toddler’s fist.

Romans traditionally eat gnocchi on a Thursday, so we did too and were glad we ordered it, little nuggets dusted in something — perhaps rice flour — to stop them sticking together but which fell apart into a mouthful of potatoey goodness when you chewed into them. They came in a cacio e pepe sauce rather than the traditional tomato, but it worked, and would have gone beautifully with a glass of red, too.

As you’ll have gathered, it all looks so good that ordering is challenging, not helped by the savoury menu being split into several sections. You want to get something from each — a little appetiser, something raw, a plate of pasta, some meat — but you’d want to be here for a very long lunch if you were doing that. At dinner time you will have to make some sacrifices, and enjoy the sweet feeling of ordering too much but still not feeling as if you haven’t ordered enough.

"The semi-circular bar that dominates the dining space is like something from a movie scene." Photo / Babiche Martens
"The semi-circular bar that dominates the dining space is like something from a movie scene." Photo / Babiche Martens

I will come back for the Bossi lasagne, for example, a dish that ordinarily has a somewhat commonplace reputation but, according to our waiter, is something very special here. Instead I went for the saltimbocca, made with traditional veal, prosciutto and sage with the most incredible, dark pan juices poured over it, the inky jus separating slightly on the plate. Next to the meat is a generous ladle of impossibly light mashed potato, whipped and topped with cheese.

The only complaint was the culurgiones, a Sardinian dumpling filled with potato and blue cheese and served with a truffly sauce. The flavours were intense and perfect but the pasta casing (pinched closed beautifully to resemble an ear of wheat) was too firm, almost the consistency of raw pastry. The real thing is silky and soft, so I’m not sure what happened here but I can’t believe that it was intentional.

It’s a beautiful purpose-built room that does remind you of New York, though the view from our seats behind a giant pillar was somewhat obscured. The semi-circular bar that dominates the dining space is like something from a movie scene and I felt a bit sorry for the people eating upstairs, who didn’t get to soak any of this in.

The kitchen, in particular, is fun to watch. For anybody familiar with the fictional kitchen from last year’s TV hit The Bear, it’s hard not to be reminded of that frenetic but focused energy. They are shooting for the stars and largely succeeding. I’m so happy for Auckland that Bossi has arrived, and I’m pleased to send you here with high expectations.

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