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By Heather• 29 May 2018
Cuba Street’s newest Italian offering, 1154 Pastaria, has historical roots, both global and local. It’s named for the earliest clear reference found to pasta — an 1154 AD book by the Arab Court geographer of the Norman King of Sicily. 1154 is also a nod to Wellington’s own local history, housed in the 1920s Hallenstein Brothers (HB) building on the corner of Ghuznee and Cuba Streets, directly opposite its sister restaurant, Scopa.
1154’s menu also gives a nod back to tradition, with a focus on classic pasta dishes made onsite, daily and by hand using a mix of authentic Italian and local fresh products. 1154 describes it as making the best they can, with the best they can find.
Upstairs at 132 Cuba Street, pasta master Lucas and his team craft vegan, gluten-free and egg pasta, while downstairs, the kitchen team cook, sauce and plate it up in one long flowing sequence. They’ve apparently been so busy in the first couple of weeks that some of the pasta has literally gone directly from Lucas’ hands straight into the pot!
To keep things moving like a well-oiled pasta machine, you first order at the counter and then find a seat at one of the communal tables or the bar seats by the windows. 1154 have a very useful dietary card to show which sauces are gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, etc. and you can pimp up any of the sauces by adding chilli, olives, capers, anchovies, parmesan or bacon for a small extra charge. Nice!
My friend and I enjoyed the rigatoni pomodoro and spinach and ricotta tortelloni with a side of garlic and rosemary roll (a brioche style pull-apart loaf) for mopping up the sauce. The rigatoni with additional chilli and anchovies was pronounced tasty, if a little more al dente than my friend was used to. The tortelloni with sage brown butter was a pitch perfect classic and slid down rather nicely.
Alongside the delicious pasta menu is an organic and natural wine list of both Italian and New Zealand origins, with different bottles opened each week for variety (I spotted an interesting-looking Cambridge Road orange wine from Martinborough among the bottles). Manager Kieran intends to continue developing the list and sees organic and natural wine as 1154’s point of difference.
You won’t find coffee here at all (the advice is to pop across to Scopa), and there are only two beers and a handful of non-alcoholic drinks served, so 1154 is definitely all about the traditions of pasta and wine. Which as we head into winter, is exactly what Wellingtonians appear to be craving. I for one, left 1154 feeling satisfied and ready for a nap.
1154 is a modern and fast-paced, fresh and casual pastaria, with a communal seating space.