ON a plate: Scoping Scopa Caffé Cucina – restaurant review

Bellissimo! Beautiful Italian food made with love at Scopa. PHOTO: ONmag.

Bellissimo! Beautiful Italian food made with love at Scopa. PHOTO: ONmag.

ANNABEL WILSON reviews the Bresolin brothers’ flagship Italian restaurant: Scopa, Cnr Ghuznee and Cuba St, Wellington (04 384 6020). Meal for two, including drinks: $70 – $110. 

Peas are trending right now. My dinner date and I decide this as we scope out the menu at Scopa, the stylish Italian eatery on the corner of Cuba and Ghuznee St, Wellington. The fare  on offer comprises a modern take on Italian staples as well as some inventive seasonal specials. We opt to cover both categories by choosing the beetroot gnocchi ($26NZD) and the pizzaiolo special ($25NZD). We’re seated by the window – a great spot to watch the world go by whilst tucking into Scopa’s famous pasta and pizza.

The atmosphere hums with a convivial mix of tourists in raincoats, couples, creatives and corporates. Service is professional and personal: co-owner Leonardo Bresolin swoops in straight away with our drinks – a Campari and soda for my friend and a Waiheke Island Man o’ War rosé for myself. Leonardo and his brother Lorenzo are the capital’s restaurant royalty, the progeny of the man who famously opened the first pizzeria in New Zealand in 1972. Remiro Bresolin then opened Il Casino Ristorante & Piano Bar, bringing world-class Italian dining (and plenty of attitude) to Wellingtonians for thirty years from 1976. His offspring now run several eating and drinking destinations of their own: Scopa, Duke Carvell’s, Tommy Millions, Crazy Horse Steak House, Gentlemen’s Beans Cafe and The Bresolin.

It’s always pleasing to see the person flipping your pizza. We watch the pizza chef stretching and spinning the dough (Scopa prides itself on making all their pizza, pasta and bread on site daily). Soon the pizzaolio arrives bedecked in rocket, prosciutto and white anchovies along with the gnocchi which is sumptuously dressed in broad beans, peas, gorgonzola, dill butter and pea shoots. We share each dish, splashing a little of Scopa’s signature chili oil on each, then finish with a rocket salad tossed with monte vecchio cheese, fresh herbs and red wine vinaigrette. The texture of the pizza is just right – the base is neither too crunchy nor chewy, carrying the fresh flavours scattered on top. Then the gnocchi. Wow. Beetroot gives the pasta an unusual vibrancy. The nuttiness of the broad beans and the richness of the gorgonzola and dill bring umami which is balanced by the lightness of the pea shoots.

An enjoyable experience and another reason to linger on enigmatic Cuba St. I’ll return for sure, to try their cocktails and relish the casual romance of it all.

For ON-the-ball previews, promotion, advertising, interviews, reviews and photography for your cool happenings and concepts, contact annabel@onmag.co.nz.

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