Parisians were apparently horrified when it became known McDonalds was sneaking their Americanism to the Champs-Elyseés. If I could extend the snobbishness of Aucklanders far beyond reality I might say one of our own centres of culture ought be freed of corporate mass-consumed imports. Although I consider the three-piece quarter pack a close confidant, I do believe that Ponsonby Road should not be a place for KFC, or their rivals in sterile over-populating franchises. Therefore I was pleased to see Nando’s depart, and recently, jubilant to see Farina taking their place.
Photo cred here
Farina is born from the owners of Toto Pizza on Nelson Street in town. Dedicated to a self described “Italian style yum cha” you get lots of sharing plates and street food so you can try as much as possible, which gives an interesting twist on the traditional Italian. There’s also an awesome list of pastas to have for yourself if you’re feeling a bit miserly. The wine was great as well, but more on that later.
The place is beautiful. They’ve built up some really wicked colours in a big airy space. The crisp white doors lead you into a space expanded through clever design. High ceilings and white walls with a wall-sized rectangular mirror in front of a long table, they’ve created a big space in the once semi-pokey Nandos. They’ve stacked tinned tomatoes atop the first open kitchen and lined the bar with bright green tiles opposite plush red raised couches. There’s just the right amount of aggressively charming Italian-ness.
Photo Cred here
The service didn’t have the zip you’d expect, perhaps because we went on an afternoon, but some quality did show when necessary. We got a 50g platter of Italian cured meats, which were served with this beautiful sweet flaky bread. Although so good, it was too much between two. We moved onto pasta where our waiter kicked into gear and took control. He told us what to order with which wine to match and set us on our way. I always respect service that is willing to take a leap of faith. When our waiter not merely insisted but effectively ordered for me it made me confident that they know what they are doing. It showed utter faith in the produce. Up until this point the place was empty and staff were milling about and chatting, having that boost of insistence was comforting. And moreover the choices were goddamn great- whatever snobbish dispositions we might have held previously were soothed.
The results of the risky endeavour were extremely satisfying. My obliging eating companion got the angel hair pasta with clams matched expertly with a dry Italian white; while I had the duck tortellini with mushrooms matched similarly expertly with a fruity Italian red. The food was delicious and bang on point, traditional subtle Italian with big hearty flavours. My only complaint was that the wine glass didn’t fit past my nose- apparently my troubles are pretty exclusive though.
With the option of delivered takeaways (yeah you read correctly), Farina is sure to be a hit. With flavours like these I doubt they will have any difficulty in attracting customers, especially with the name of an Auckland institution like Toto behind them. The service was sluggish in some areas but was forgiven through excellence in a pretty large area. I feel this place would boom on a busy weekend night with decent crowds on some of the big tables- definitely worth a visit. Personally, I'm pretty stoked to have available an extremely satisfying Italian eatery in the Ponsonby area, whether it’s at their place or mine.
Title Image Cred here