The Dish: Osteria Uno, Rocketman Bar, Plus More Delicious Food News

By Johanna Thornton
Jordan and Sarah Macdonald at their new Italian eatery Osteria Uno. Photo / Alex McVinnie

A trifecta of openings offers plenty of eating opportunity this week, as bucatini tangles with mussels, fresh-pressed apple juice joins botanical rum, and fried pork hock settles down with sapa sui.

New opening: Osteria Uno takes shape in Birkenhead

North Shore locals are in for a buono treat with the opening of Osteria Uno, a new casual Italian eatery on Hinemoa Street. Husband-and-wife team Jordan and Sarah Macdonald are opening in the former embroidery shop adjacent to their popular cafe and bistro Duo, (geddit? Uno, Duo…) offering handmade pastas that Viva can attest to being “delizioso” (prior to opening, the eatery hosted an event for Stella Artois, a sublime fusion of food and atmosphere).

The new menu features elevated Italian classics, such as the casarecce with asparagus and cavalo nero pesto, bucatini with mussels and fermented chilli butter, and cresto de gallo with marsala braised duck leg, balsamic and rosemary, along with smaller plates and specials, and a wine and cocktail list that will transport guests to the Mediterranean.

The pair have made quite an impact on the Auckland food scene, with Jordan behind Culprit, Lowbrow and Little Culprit, and Sarah a former chef at Woodpecker Hill, Culprit and Fed Deli (she was also a MasterChef contestant).

Leading the kitchen will be head chef Gleber Chaparro (formerly Lilian and ex Amano, Depot and Sugar Club), who has just recently returned from a stint at Michelin-starred Disfrutar in Barcelona. Robbie Walmsley (Shapiro’s and Vic Road Kitchen), heads front-of-house.

Architect Kirsty Mitchell is responsible for the fit-out at the former Stott’s Butchery building (circa 1910), an urban-cool combo of old and new, with the shop’s original stained glass windows, and wall and floor tiles, a sleek marble-countered bar and leather banquet seating.

Open from Thursday, October 26 from 4.30pm. 140 Hinemoa Street, Birkenhead.

Rocketman bar, located on Roukai Lane.
Rocketman bar, located on Roukai Lane.

New opening: Rocketman bar opens in Britomart

From the talented team that brought us Caretaker and Deadshot comes Rocketman, a retro-futurism-inspired space complete with rocket artwork and a bar shaped like the fuselage of a plane ... because why not! Heather Garland and husband Alastair Walker say their new bar is “a light-hearted, quirky little party bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously”. Located above Caretaker off Customs Street East in Britomart, the space will act as a “departure lounge for escapism” with a playlist of 90s hip-hop, disco and live bands playing jazz-hop. There’s space to host events for 20-100 people, as well as private karaoke room Ms Kitty’s Parlour.

Unlike their other bars, where bartenders create a custom cocktail depending on your mood, Rocketman has a drinks menu of classic cocktails, tap beer and New Zealand wines. Heather is especially excited about the Giggle Juice, which combines fresh-pressed apple juice that’s juiced to order, “so it’s super-fresh and fluffy and the spirit of your choice. We recommend it with botanical rum like our Rocketman rum created with 1919 Distilling, which has fennel, lemon and ginger to pair perfectly with the fresh apple.”

Open Wednesday-Saturday from 5pm-2am, but maybe 3am if you’re lucky.

Metita dishes including King salmon on a betel leaf with mango pickle and roe; corn beef bun with lardo and caviar.
Metita dishes including King salmon on a betel leaf with mango pickle and roe; corn beef bun with lardo and caviar.

New opening: Metita is open for bookings from October 27

This one has been hotly anticipated by Viva. Acclaimed chef Michael Meredith opens the doors to his new Pacific Island-style restaurant Metita in the SkyCity precinct on October 27, and bookings are being accepted. Back in September, Michael told us “Metita will be a representation of what Pacifica food can be. I grew up in Samoa, in my mother’s pancake stall at the market I want to use those memories, those staples, but elevate them by using modern techniques.” His menu spans snacks like oysters, lamb ribs, smoked eel and greenlipped mussels, to share plates of fried pork hock with sapa sui, chilli and peanuts; pāua with ulu, paneer and burnt orange; and roasted tua tua with okra and harissa. It’s an exciting array of flavours that traverse premium New Zealand produce and ingredients from the South Pacific.

The restaurant has been designed by interior design studio CTRL Space as a nod to Pacific design and craft, with a range of design features that “tell stories of Pacific culture”. The contemporary and textural dining room is rendered in a palette of deep blues, greys, cool neutrals and soft whites in homage to the ocean and sky. Woven materials are incorporated in wall coverings and banquette seating, with timber tables, stone surfaces and layers of texture in soft furnishings. The centrepiece is a cluster of woven objects hanging from the ceiling inspired by traditional Pacific fishing baskets.

“I always wanted to name a restaurant after my mum, heroing her, and the influence she had on my life, so it’s great to be partnering with SkyCity to bring that to life,” says Michael. 90 Federal Street, central city.

Tom Hishon and the Kingi board made from recycled fishing nets.
Tom Hishon and the Kingi board made from recycled fishing nets.

Kingi teams up with Critical to create a new chopping board made from recycled fishing nets

Seafood-focused restaurant Kingi is celebrating the launch of an innovative new kitchen staple, created in collaboration with NZ-based plastics recycling startup Critical and local non-profit LegaSea.

The Kingi chopping board is made from about 5 per cent of commercial fishing nets and 95 per cent post-consumer plastics. The hue and patterning of each board are unique and largely determined by the colour of the fishing nets used in that recycling process.

Speaking at a launch event, Tom Hishon called the chopping board an “awareness piece,” designed to draw attention to damaging fishing practices of bottom trawling. This type of commercial fishing sees heavy fishing nets dragged across the seafloor, disrupting and damaging important marine ecosystems. It’s a fishing method that Tom (and Kingi) reject. “We advocate for sustainable fishing methods that don’t include bottom trawling, supporting fishermen and women who believe in these practices and care about ensuring the future abundance of fish stocks. They’re our oceans’ guardians, they’re our kaitiaki.”

Similarly, Sam Woolford, the LegaSea programme lead, stressed the importance of consuming seafood responsibly, with an understanding of how trawling disrupts the environment. Rui Pen, co-founder of Critical, explained that about 140 plastic pieces made up each board and attested to the durability of the product — guaranteeing a payout to any diner who could successfully crack the board themselves.

The boards are available for purchase through the LegaSea website with 100 per cent of the proceeds going towards the non-profit. Tonight, Kingi will also host an event to celebrate the launch of the boards. Tom invites diners to enjoy a degustation menu of five different courses of snapper, resourcefully utilising five different parts of the fish for each. The menu promises a wide range of seasonal produce, including nasturtium, apple, elderflower, asparagus and macadamia, paying a springtime homage to the fish (which is abundant throughout the Hauraki Gulf).

What The Viva Team Has Been Eating & Drinking This Week...

Lunch at Sydney’s La Riviera

With Sydney’s dining scene proving the perfect exemplar of how to create European bistro and brassiere fare with a fresh, Southern Hemisphere twist, a recent trip to La Riviera was the perfect pit stop. Owned by the same team behind the iconic Bambini Trust opposite Hyde Park, La Riviera is tucked away on Phillip Street and is open for breakfast (try their incredible La Mortazza flatbread sandwich with an espresso), lunch and dinner. Our lunch consisted of freshly baked focaccia, followed by perfectly cooked Margra lamb ragu served with cassarece. Simple and made with local ingredients, this chic addition to the bistro scene is an ideal way to enjoy a meal (in between some retail therapy, of course) next time you’re in Sydney. 170 Phillip Steet, Sydney — Dan Ahwa, creative and fashion director

Grilled asparagus at Depot

It’s comforting to know that some things never change like the perennial classics on Depot’s menu. The sliders, skirt steak, pork hock and potato skins are reliable favourites I can turn to again and again. On a recent visit, I spotted some new additions to the menu, like new-season asparagus, and had to give it a whirl. A bowl of beautifully charred asparagus spears arrived at our table topped with a spicy nduja dressing, slivered almonds and preserved lemon. At the bottom of the green pile, a smooth ricotta sauce for dipping. Fresh and flavourful, add these to your order next time you stop by. 86 Federal Steet, central city Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

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