The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
August 7, 2009

Portofino

The opening of the new restaurant Portofino in the base of the Meridian building will add nicely to the ambience of the Kumutoto area, making a triumverate of eateries / drinkeries that is a little Wellington all in itself. I’m surprised that the staff in the building above ever need to leave their offices at all. They’ve got the sumptuous Mojototo fitout by Alistar Cox, with its multi-hued stripey nature, the always packed nature of the Wagamamatoto with the best noodles and gyoza in town, and now the sumptuous Portofinototo finishes the building off nicely, glowing invitingly and looking like the place to be on a warm summers evening. Roll on summer!

porto

The design, by an Auckland designer, looks like it fits in well with the building, and takes the area a little more upmarket than the Loaded Hog and the One Red Dog on the other side of the Kumutoto plaza. That gives a nice choice of dining to those commuters on the Eastbourne Ferry, and ties the whole area back into the city. The owners, two delightful Italian brothers Gino and Kiro, have opened up a string of fine Italian restaurants around New Zealand, taking advantage of key waterside locations and this one is no exception. They’ve got a Portofino in the Viaduct in Auckland, as well as the original in Parnell, and others in Mission Bay and Takapuna – its about time that the capital got its own taste.

portoo

Of course, none of these waterside locations can really compare at all to the beauty of the original town of Portofino, which really does have to be the ultimate of waterside locations, and which are worth a few small peaks at now:

portofino
The town itself is idyllic and gorgeous – the architecture even more so:
portofinoseafront
Pictures like that make me want to take off straight away and buy a small fishing boat by the water in Portofino – and also make me wonder if we shouldn’t lighten up a little on our policy of building next to the sea. These italians don’t just build near the sea – they’re practically building IN the sea. Which makes Waterfront Watch’s perpetual bleating about the encroachment of buildings on the waterfront even more pointless. The news yesterday that the Hilton are indeed looking at site 10 at Kumutoto is no real surprise, although a disappointment to me: it would have been far nicer to see them looking at a more exciting site than that. I always thought the empty ferry terminal building of the old FastCat ferry would have been a better site, with water on both sides instead of being surrounded by waterfront motorway. But the news that this wharf is also due for massive costs in restoration and the previous battle over the outer Tee site have obviously left the Hilton backers with a desire for a more achievable goal.

Greenwelly
7 - 08 - 09

I understand that the glasgow wharf that you are talking about is not part of “Wellington waterfront” and is still under the auspices of Centreport, so it was never under consideration.

Maximus
7 - 08 - 09

But regardless: it has a building on it now, that is largely unused, the wharf needs repairs and yet has sea views in 2 directions, and it does not sit in anyone’s viewshaft – seems like the best place to me.

And seeing as Centreport is quite happy to develop land on their Harbour Quays business park anyway…

jayseatee
7 - 08 - 09

I had a thought this weekend regarding waterfront development – actually in line with the Wellington Waterfront competition – actually I have two..
the first is to re-create the colossus of Rhodes straddling queen’s wharf, in the image of Kerry Prendergast, her eyes facing the harbour to great people to the city and her rear, well….

second idea – tear down tsb arena and replace it with a floating barge sports stadium that can be shipped from city to city as event needs.

it’s brilliant, i swear.

Maximus
7 - 08 - 09

Brilliant! Absolutely! Such as:
http://www.singaporeyoutholympicgames.com/yog-venues/marina-bay-floating-stadium/

http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Floating_20Football_20Stadium

http://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/2301211286/

Maximus
7 - 08 - 09

and of course:
http://www.rodos.com/rhodes-tn/colossus-rh.htm
and
http://www.7wonders.info/colossus-of-rhodes.php

jayseatee
7 - 08 - 09

well that sucks, and here I thought a floating sports arena was original.
and the the Kerry Colossus is to GREET people to the city, for anyone who was curious what I meant.

jayseatee
7 - 08 - 09

and the benefit of the movable sports arena is that in the times that it is needed for a NZ concert tour, it can can stay set up, the band and groupies can stay on the barge in a constant state of drug and booze fuelled blur and float obliviously from one city to the other.

Peter
8 - 08 - 09

Seem to recall someone floated a similar stadium idea when Trevor Mallard was advocating filling in the Auckland harbour for the Rugby World Cup.

Honeywood
10 - 08 - 09

I ate at Portofino last night: pleasant, quiet, perhaps due to their not yet having a liquor license. The interior is good although it seems pitched a little higher than their menu (which, it has to be said, is thin pickings for a vegetarianů). I had seen the scathing reviews of their Auckland restaurants http://www.dineout.co.nz/restaurant.php?rest=166&restaurant_name=Portofino%20Pizzeria%20Ristorante
but went anyway. I have had very ordinary experiences at Mojo and disgraceful service at Wagamama; hopefully Portofino will have higher aspirations.

Maximus
11 - 08 - 09

Honey – that’s disappointing – as you say, their decor certainly looks great, and I hope their food will measure up to it. They’ve got a great location, but a hard road to be the best italian restaurant in Wellington, of which Maria Pia’s always takes the cake for me. Or rather, I take their cake. Or tiramisu. (eyes roll back into head in paroxyms of delectation…. nom nom…). But then again – an italian meal without red wine? It’ll never be quite the same!

Yeah, Waga has its ups and downs – most of the time i’ve been there it has been good / ok, but i still think of it as per its london roots – ie a quick cheap noodle bar – and so always find it difficult to think of the NZ translation of that into neither quick nor cheap – which is acceptable as long as the food still tastes good.

And Mojo – no complaints from me. But then again, I am one of their most valued customers….

jp
11 - 08 - 09

As the food critic in the Gruanid put it the other day:

“never eat in a restaurant with a view, that revolves or which is on a boat. The food will always be lousy at a joint which sells itself on something which has nothing to do with the menu.”

mobsta
11 - 08 - 09

Portofino’s are “franchises (of a sort).
They are all controlled by members of the same family, so it depends on how each of them are run.

I’ve had a terrible experience in one of their restaurants in Auckland (not the one that’s just gone into – ahem – liquidation….), but I’ve also had fantastic experiences in the one in Christchurch, which is really good.
It will be interesting to see where Wellington sits.

Interesting that you mention Wagamama London Maximus.
I remember it being an architectural pilgrimage back when it was the only one in the world.
Interior by Chipperfield.
Apparently they had a ‘rule’ when they were designing the interior, that junctions should have no more than two materials touching. We went searching and could not find a junction anywhere with 3 materials.
Gorgeous, and very rigorous.

Maximus
11 - 08 - 09

Chipperfield? No, that was the second one in Wardour St The first one was just off Bedford Square.

mobsta
12 - 08 - 09

Ah. Many thanks for the clarification.

Maximus
25 - 08 - 09

mobsta – actually, you’re right, i’m wrong. John Pawson did the one in Wardour St – and Chipperfield, apparently, did the first one in / off Bedford Sq

Maximus
25 - 08 - 09

Just thought I’d post in here – a letter from Wadestown, via the DominionPost –
“Fear of Open Spaces”
“Recently on our way through Wellington, we drove along the waterfront. While we waited at the traffic lights opposite the Whitmore St entrance to the wharf, we could see out over the water and boats and general activity of people moving about.
It was a gentle, calm, overcast day, and the harbour, with the hills in the background, was magnificent. As we swung round on to Jervois Quay and headed south, we had an even better view out across the area immediately north of the Meridian Building, and felt terribly disappointed to think that a new building would soon cut off so much of this lovely vista. What is it that creates this fear of open spaces on our gem of a waterfront?
JOHN and SUSIE TOOGOOD
Wadestown”
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/2780125/Fear-of-open-spaces

jayseatee
4 - 01 - 10

I had a thought this weekend regarding waterfront development – actually in line with the Wellington Waterfront competition – actually I have two..
the first is to re-create the colossus of Rhodes straddling queen's wharf, in the image of Kerry Prendergast, her eyes facing the harbour to great people to the city and her rear, well….

second idea – tear down tsb arena and replace it with a floating barge sports stadium that can be shipped from city to city as event needs.

it's brilliant, i swear.