Photographs: David Straight
Farina is the second restaurant of Toto’s owner Sergio Maglione: his food is devastatingly simple and yet full of flavour. (Ironically, we started EHN because of a date involving live opera at Toto, though we’ve long since forgiven them.) Farina is simple: very white with slightly industrial touches, and some unsettling green lights under the bar. We like to sit at the high marble-topped tables down the side of the restaurant and share a few plates.
The place is a homage to Maglione’s home town of Naples – so there’s pizza, pasta and lots of seafood. There’s a big chunk of “streetfood”, of which we can happily recommend the Polipo ($16), beautifully tender pieces of octopus with olive oil, garlic and chilli – classic, plain, simple. We love it. We recently ate a simple bresaola salad ($18) and the selection of Italian cured meats ($10 to $20) wasn’t just perfectly executed, it was also ridiculously good value. The pastas are handmade, generous – designed for sharing, rather than a big bowl for one; there is a daily ragu special ($18) and a brilliant octopus tagliatelle ($22). But it’s the spiedini ($36) we love: foot-long skewers of chargrilled meat, slathered with salsa verde – perfect medium-rare steak and a fabulous pork and fennel sausage.
If I have a complaint, it’s the service – at times, it descends to almost farcical Italian. The staff are all good looking and they all have fabulous accents, but sometimes they’re overbearing and sometimes they ignore you and it can be exceptionally hard to get a second drink. A bit like Naples, really. SFG
HOURS Open seven days, 12pm until late
ADDRESS 244 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 302-2665. farina.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS Toto’s three-metre pizzas are now also made here – delivery or takeaway.