Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: O'Sarracino *CLOSED*

[Added 28 January 2015: O'Sarracino has announced that it is turning into IKA Seafood Bar and Grill.]

My favourite Italian restaurant in Auckland doesn't serve pizza. And although I consider it fine dining, it doesn't have the restrained formal atmosphere you associate with many restaurants; it is a place for loud and raucous eating, to share with friends.  Even before it was named the winner of Cuisine magazine's Best Specialist Restaurant award in 2010, we knew it was special.

The first few times we ate at O'Sarracino, we were given samples at the slightest suggestion of interest: two types of cheeses one time, and a digestif similar to limoncello another time.  The restaurant was beautiful, with polished wooden floors and stained glass windows left over from the days when the building was, ahem, a funeral parlour.  The reason we kept coming back, though, was for the food, which was unlike anything we had eaten before in other Italian restaurants.

You simply cannot go to O'Sarracino without trying the antipasti platters.  We have never ordered dishes one by one, instead asking the waiter to bring out a selection of the specialties, which are always just right in terms of size and taste.  Where else would you go for something like casatiello, hand made bread with salami, pancetta and cheese rolled inside?

Antipasti: cured meats and bread, casatiello with crumbed eggplant, insalata caprese, vegetables Naples style, bruschetta, and insalata di mare
The pasta dishes are fantastic as well, fresh and tasty, and probably the best you can get in Auckland, with the pasta made daily by an Argentinian man who ran the Pasta La Vista shop that used to be next door (unfortunately the store closed in August 2009, but I was told that manufacturing would continue in the outskirts of Auckland).

A selection of pasta, meat and seafood mains selected by our waiter
If you still have room, you will want to try the desserts as well, which is a changing menu.  One friend was very disappointed when tiramisu was not available when we went, but when I last dined at O'Sarracino, I managed to try it, a big blob of creamy goodness on a plate.  On that occasion though, my favourite was the panettone, a dryish fruit loaf with a delicate citrus flavour that went perfectly with icecream.

Desserts of the day: chocolate pot, tiramisu, panettone with icecream, and panna cotta
It won't be a cheap dinner, but all in all, O'Sarracino is a great choice for a special birthday (let the waiter know so they can dim the lights and sing you a birthday song), or for catching up with friends.  Buon appetito!

Panda Recommends

Antipasti platters, pastas, basically anything the waiters recommend!  Allow at least $60 per person.

Vegie Pandas
Ask and you shall receive.

Food menu

Bookings required.  Going with a larger group will let you try more dishes.

Restaurant Details

3-5 Mount Eden Road, Eden Terrace, Auckland
(09) 309 3740

Opening hours:
Tuesdays to Saturdays 6:30pm till late.

O'Sarracino is on Mount Eden Road, close to the intersection with Symonds Street

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