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!


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.


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:

The town itself is idyllic and gorgeous – the architecture even more so:
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.

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