I am a huge fan of The Grove and have eaten there on numerous occasions (read my review from last year). So when new broke that its executive chef Ben Bayly and owner, Michael Dearth decided to create a new American-Italian collaboration, I was over the moon. Baduzzi (the Sicilian word for meatballs) is one of the latest addition to the growing Wynyard Quarter and opened around the beginning of September.
As the name suggests, meatballs is one of their specialities, so we decided to try three different kinds. The Coromandel crayfish meatball was paired with a chunky tomato and basil sauce with chickpeas, the grilled waygu meatball covered with a hearty onion gravy was topped with cannellini beans and salad verde and the wild red deer meatballs was served on a bed of cauliflower puree and pieces of Portobello mushrooms. These different assortment of meatballs at Baduzzi all had an oh-so perfect texture and most importantly, they were moist and held very well together. I throughly enjoyed all of them but my favourite was the crayfish variety, purely because of the tangy tomato sauce which was flavourful without being too savoury.
The portions of meatballs were nowhere near enough, so we picked out a few more items from the menu. The shaved wagyu tongue with salsa rossa was like a work of art. We rolled up the thin slices of meat and quickly devoured them with ease. The beetroot tagliatelli came highly recommended by our friendly waiter who raved about the fried paua. He was not wrong, the beetroot pasta, when tossed with the poached quail egg, fried paua, tomato and bacon was exquisite.
The cioppino (not pictured) was the most outstanding dish for the night. Made from a full-bodied stock, the thin soup/stew was crammed with flavours and full of different ingredients including clams, mussels and fresh line caught fish. By the time our last dish arrived, we were starting to get full. The asparagus and broad bean risotto, perfectly cooked in a light vegetable broth had a lovely creamy texture and I enjoyed the subtle hint of mint.
My friends and I throughly enjoyed our pricey dinner at Baduzzi and I welcome Ben Bayly and Michael Dearth’s new collaboration with open arms! For the non meat eaters, do not let the hype of meatballs deter you from trying Baduzzi as their other dishes shine just as much. Their menu not only incorporates the different versions of meatballs, they also have a section dedicated to the vegetarians, so you will be spoilt for choice. We over-ordered on the savoury dishes, so we skipped dessert, which is quite a shame as I’ve heard great things about their tiramisu. Maybe this will be a good excuse to come back?!
Date: Friday 25 October 2013 | Address: Cnr Jellicoe St and Fish Lane, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland CBD | Food: American-Italian