WellingtonEat & Drink
The exterior of Rita in Te Aro valley at sunset with their yellow lighting shining through the glass.
  • Location

    89 Aro Street, Aro Valley, Wellington

  • Website


Tucked away in Aro Valley, Rita is an unassuming restaurant that is anything but ordinary. The 30-seater dining area is in a compact, 100-year-old worker’s cottage, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality.

“Rita is what you get when people who really, really care about food open their dream restaurant and design every little thing to be exactly perfect,” according to food critic Jesse Mulligan, who gave the restaurant a perfect score and named it his favourite restaurant in the country.

Passionate local duo Kelda Hains and Paul Schrader own and run the restaurant. The pair are familiar faces in the Wellington hospitality scene, having put local institution Nikau Café on the map when they opened it next door to City Gallery Wellington in 1998.

The waitstaff pouring a glass of wine for a table with 4 customers. inside Rita in Aro Valley.

Rita isn’t a drop-in kind of place — you need to book for one of two staggered sittings each night. Once you’ve decided when you’re eating you can relax, as the rest of your evening is in the team’s capable hands.

The mystery (and magic) of Rita is that you never know what you will be eating, but it will be thoughtful, local, seasonal and delicious. Surprise is an important element of the Rita experience and something that the team think about when they are planning the menu each day. It could be by using ingredients in a way that people don’t expect, or doing something that lifts a dish into a new and exciting realm.

While you get an explanation of your entree, main and any side dishes when you take a seat, dessert is always kept a surprise until the very end. It could be a just-set rhubarb jelly with a jug of sour cream custard or perhaps a tart made with perfectly ripe stone fruit. Whatever it is, it’ll feel just right. Perfect, even.

A green dish served at Rita, with a glass of red wine and a bottle next to it.