Baduzzi is an Italian trattoria under the helm of Michael Dearth of The Grove. This is in a lower-price range, but with all the creativity and passion, which goes into his other restaurant.
This place is a visual delight, with its leather blanquettes, customised wallpaper, marble tabletops, mirrored walls and chic industrial ceiling. I love that they use coloured crockery; the bright green of their plates was a herald of good things to come. As a retired Catholic though, the idea of a Virgin Mary salt spoon was just a touch too uncomfortable. The service is top-notch; you get a warm greeting followed by friendly and attentive service for the rest of the meal. There are even blankets for the cooler evenings if you choose to dine in the covered courtyard.
And then, there is the food. I could wax lyrical about the food at Baduzzi… and I will. The food is innovative, visually stunning and tastes fabulous. The menu has changed slightly each of the three times I’ve visited since the end of last year.
Yes, the crayfish meatballs (3 for $18) are beyond fantastic. Tender, succulent and so savoury, you wonder how they get so much flavour into one mouthful. And yes, you will judge all other meatballs against this. The grilled wagyu meatballs ($15) with onion gravy and salsa verde were excellent as well.
I also love the carpaccio of poached wagyu tongue ($15). One its own, it’s tender and bland, but with the salsa rossa and horseradish Chantilly, it’s hits all the right notes.
At my first visit, we had the wild rabbit ravioli ($18), which came on turnip puree, and the highly recommended flame grilled sardines ($14) with pinoli pine nuts, feta & white raisins.
My second visit, we sampled the tuna nicoise with came with French beans, black olive tapenade and a perfectly soft boiled egg ($18). I didn’t think I was a nicoise salad sort of woman, but this fresh ingredients and balanced flavours in these won me over. Then, there was the potato and saffron gnocchi ($18) filled with goats curd with a buerre noisette sauce. The gnocchi has been shaped into a tortellini and filled with the goats curd.
The mains were beautifully cooked as well, but in a larger serving, did not have the same flavour bursts as the small plates. (It was then I learnt to only order from the small plates for my subsequent visits). The pulled milk fed goat ($24) was too gamey for me, while the flat iron steak tagliata ($30) seemed ordinary albeit delicious.
The second time around, we had the Barolo glazed suckling pig (30) with wilted spinach and sweet apple mustard. This was so good, I could have had seconds.
For desserts, try the deconstructed tiramisu ($15), Bailey laced mascarpone and amaretto ladyfingers. Or the totally decadent Valrhona chocolate torta capresse with a raspberry gelato ($14).
Baduzzi is one of those restaurants where it just all comes together. I brought my parents and they’d loved it. I came on date night with my fiancé, even gate crashed a work lunch (his), and Baduzzi delivered both times. While they take bookings for lunch, dinners are walk-in only unless you are a group of 8 or more (in which case they suggest you peruse the set menus).
Wynyard Quarter, 10 – 26 Jellicoe Street, CBD, Auckland
Ph: 09 – 309 9339
Open 7 days: 11:30am until late