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By Heather• 7 Mar 2018
What do you get if you Google Monte Cervino? The iconic mountain on the Swiss/Italian border known as the Matterhorn to the Swiss, and Monte Cervino to the Italians – the two faces of the Matterhorn.
Monte Cervino (the new Matterhorn) is found at… 66 Tory Street, in the old Lonestar premises.
You can expect… interior decor that mixes lovely old brick married to light, bright modernity; an environment where you won’t need to use the light on your smartphone to read the menu!
Sean Marshall still leads the charge in the kitchen, but is now turning out dishes with a more casual and playful Italian bent – mascarpone, coffee and beer risotto anyone? Or perhaps stuffed zucchini blossoms with goats curd?
Summarised as 'not so much an Italian restaurant and bar, but a New Zealand one with influences that spread back to Italy’.
We ingested… the house baked focaccia bread, the whipped salt cod, the beer and coffee risotto (a friend had the autumn version a week later and sung its praises), and the wood roasted chicken.
Every dish had its own highlights – the softness of the focaccia, the silky texture of the whipped cod, the intriguing flavours of the risotto, and the richness of the fermented garlic, rosemary and preserved lemon on the chicken.
Note, the servings of both entrees and mains are quite generous, so you could easily go entrée, side and dessert, or just a main.
Although our bellies were bulging, we squeezed in a mouthful of cannoli to finish, with its excellent pastry texture against the soft ricotta, bursts of lemon and crunches of pistachio.
The drinks… the list focuses on wine and digestives, with a few drafts, crafts, spirits, interesting cocktails, and non-alcs.
The cocktails are a fascinating story of the islands, the farms, the villages, the forests, the coasts or the alps, all with interesting ingredients (Rewarewa honey in the forest, sherried peach shrub in the village, etc). We couldn’t go past the alps and enjoyed the mix of Amaro Aperol, Branca Menta (menthol/peppermint) and pine shoot cordial. And interestingly, we did think it had a kind of alpine forest taste. Intriguing.
I also spotted a Monte Cervino draft beer, an unusual Orange blended wine from Gisborne (Viognier, Marsanne and Muscat), and non-alcoholic wines of various varietals. More visits to Monte Cervino are definitely in my future.
The service… was welcoming, friendly, and a little bit groovy - the Matterhorn vibe we know and love - with a couple of spectacular handlebar moustaches rounding out the look.
What tickled me most… was the tall table in its own by the bathrooms. Is that the naughty corner we wondered? And what grievous act does one have to commit to be relegated there?
What I’m eyeing up for next time… is the tuna crudo with lardo, fig, olive and blood orange; the zucchini, lemon, pine nut and asiago pizzetta; and Nonna’s fritole (sweet doughnuts). And maybe a drink or three.
In conclusion… get your crampons on, and go check out the other face of the Matterhorn. You won’t be disappointed.