Restaurant review: Baduzzi, Auckland
Cuisine rating: 16/20 (two chef's hats)
It's Italian, but not as your nonna knows it. This constantly humming spot takes the fundamentals of the canon – kick-ass pasta, respectfully treated veg, beautiful antipasti – and throws in a bit of New York sass, courtesy of US-born owner Michael Dearth. Executive chef Ben Bayly (winner of the title of Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year) creates meatballs that are a specialty, though they're given the silk purse treatment – perhaps orbs of crayfish and savoy cabbage; or minced wagyu with onion gravy and salsa verde. Baduzzi's take on vitello tonnato is another highlight: beautifully tender rosy-hued slices of veal rib, scattered with dabs of tuna mayo and rocket. The decor's a quirky mix of Italianate tiling, copper-fronted bar and olive-green banquettes, while the staff are happy to provide counsel on everything from how much to order to what to select from Dearth's Euro-centric wine list.