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March 31, 2014 | by  | in Food Opinion |
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Meals and Feels with Eve – Osteria del Toro review

Best places for Mediterranean cuisine in Wellington: review

On a recent date, I wanted to try somewhere new and “a little bit fancy” but not out of my price range. We wandered along Courtenay Place until we hit Tory St; and although we were drawn to our regular, Chow, we continued up Tory St to Osteria del Toro, beside the zebra-striped backpackers. Hungry after half an hour of wandering the streets, we decided to drown our hunger in cocktails while we waited for a table. The cocktails are cheap(ish) and delicious. I highly recommend the Tanqueray Smash ($13): I tried to recreate this at home with 100 per cent apple juice, ginger beer, gin, lightly mashed-up New Zealand grapes, and elderflower cordial, and it worked quite well.  You could replace the gin with vodka if gin is too maudlin for you.

After half an hour, our table was ready. The menu is extensive, with pizzas, pastas, an array of meat dishes, paellas, salads and an exceptional selection of entrées. It is at the expensive end of the student budget: between $6 and $16 for entrees, and $20 and $36 for mains – but this is no Oriental Kingdom. There is luxe (albeit slightly oddly mismatched) décor, and excellent table service. The Melanzane pizza I had (featuring grilled eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, olives, gorgonzola and parmesan) was the best pizza I’ve had in New Zealand. They directly import their flour from Italy, and although I would normally be sceptical that you could taste the difference, I could (I do feel guilty about the food miles though!) I do enjoy Tommy Millions, but if you have the time and the money, choose Osteria del Toro.

My date had homemade pappardelle with nine-hour-cooked veal Bolognese, which she recommends.

The only gripes we had were the $9 we had to pay for a litre of sparkling water, and the long wait time given the lateness of the hour – but this only demonstrates the popularity of the restaurant. The clientèle is diverse and cheerful; this is a good place to bring your parents or your squeeze for a fancy-ish dinner that doesn’t blow your budget.

If you’re interested in Mediterranean food but don’t want to spend quite so much, try Lazeeza on Dixon St; I can recommend their brunch menu, or the ever-popular Mediterranean Food Warehouse, who have good specials and a pizzeria at the Kelburn Shops.


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