I have a tendency to immensely enjoy a ladies’ long lunch over which we share a couple of aperol spritzes and chatter non stop about our lives.
As we head into summer and we have a bit more time to catch up with the people we love, here are my top picks based on the fact that they serve stellar food items, have an incredible overall ambiance and some which have withheld the test of time by being cornerstone dining establishments in Auckland.
Located on Jervois Road in Herne Bay, as announced on their website, Andiamo quite literally is the “perfect neighbourhood spot for lunch or a leisurely dinner”.
Currently the outdoor seating has a beautiful floral arrangement hanging from the ceiling which makes the ambiance just that much more vibrant and inviting. The restaurant is spacious, modern and sleek and it really does just feel like your local.
With a diverse Italian inspired menu, Andiamo caters to all tastes. From the number of sharing dishes (I’m a sucker for the grilled eggplant and the chilli-fried calamari), to having a pizette (a smaller pizza but it really isn’t that small!), to the various pastas (the ricotta agnollotti and fusilli cacio e pepe are divine to say the least) and various fish and meat options available you are spoiled for choice here.
The cocktail list is extensive with unique drinks. My top recommendations are the “very superior spritz” which is a pampello and strawberry based drink, and the “El Diablo” which is tequila and mezcal (if you like ‘em spicy!).
The perfect place to go for lunch with the ladies where you can order a bunch of dishes to share, this is one of my top spots if you want a long lunch with a drink in hand.
Soul Bar and Bistro
The viaduct’s finest Soul bar and bistro is the epitome of a long lunch location.
What more could you want then the vibe that soul has to offer? I’m talking about breathtaking waterfront views, the hustle and bustle of the viaduct on a summer’s day, and just feeling like you’re amongst the action.
Soul, as an institution, has been in the Auckland dining scene for 21 years and has continuously elevated their dining offerings in that time to grow as we have.
A spot that you can guarantee your food will always be great at, I go for the incredible outdoor dining venue and the fact that the soul bar macaroni and cheese is literally something I wake up at night craving.
Soul has some of my favourite cocktails such as the “Pretty in Pink” for a vodka strawberry cocktail and the “Silver Spoon” if you’re down for some gin with vanilla and lemon and egg whites for the foam.
Perfect for a saturday late lunch where you’re sharing a dozen oysters with the ladies and plan to bar-hop around the Viaduct, Soul is perfect for any lunching summer occasion.
This next location isn’t quite a mainstay like the others, but has gained a huge following and is always busy and brimming with people.
A self-proclaimed bar, bistro and beer garden, Hotel Ponsonby truly has it all. Catering to the blokes who love a good lager, the girls who want a vino in the sun, or a few delectable cocktails (I easily always down a few of the coconut margaritas!) this is such a great use of the space on the corner of Saint Marys Road.
The menu changes quite often, but the standouts for me on the recent menu when I went last week was the anchovy burrata on lemon-fried bread (complete sensory overload!), the spinach fazzoletti and an absolutely divine kina tagliatelle (the sort of which I’ve almost never had!).
If you’re in a bit more of a drink and snack mood, there’s so many options making HP my “local”.
No matter what you do this summer, be sure to visit at least once with the ladies on a sunny day!
Prego has been open since 1986, making its accolades for service and Italian cuisine no small feat. As they’ve declared, they’ve survived three recessions, two volcanic eruptions and one global pandemic which is all attributable to their consistent commitment to greatness which has helped them foster generations of loyal customers.
Located on Ponsonby Road, the spacious venue boasts an incredible outdoor area at which being seated feels like you’re on holiday.
They cater to all dietary requirements and both the fungi pizza (we love a mushroom medley) and the linguine alla marinara (the prawns are always so fresh and the pasta sauce is so rich!) are my absolute favourite dishes.
The wine list is so comprehensive with both top New Zealand wines and Italian imports, but nothing beats the Prego Chilli Margarita.
I absolutely love Prego for a Sunday lunch with the ladies that transcends from the afternoon into the evening.
Non Solo Pizza
Non Solo has been around since 1997, making it 25 years old to date and again a quintessential Auckland restaurant.
NSP truly thrives in the summer as the dining space is large and has by far one of the most phenomenal outdoor courtyards that feels like you’ve been transported to Italy. From the busts to the fountains to the greenery, sitting in the courtyard is an experience in and of itself. It was the perfect photo spot during my birthday lunch earlier this year.
NSP is lively and radiant which makes it an incredible choice on a summer’s day. To be completely candid, I’m not a huge fan of the pastas at NSP but the pizza choices are second to only a very very marginal few (I mean, it is called Non Solo Pizza after all). The Nerano in particular is a delicious and unique zucchini pizza covered in chilli and whipped stracciatella for a silky texture.
This is my pick if you have a large group. For my birthday we did the Italian Long Lunch menu, which is $75 per person. They sat 25 of us in the courtyard letting the food roll out to us over the course of four or so hours, as we guzzled down a couple of bottles of the Ricasoli Albia Italian Rose and some Aperol Spritzes.