Francesca’s Italian Kitchen, Wanaka


It’s always a good sign when you walk into a restaurant on a weekday evening, and the place is full (especially when you’ve made a booking in advance!). I was initially undecided as to whether we should spend our one and only evening in Wanaka here, especially given the relative abundance of authentic Italian food in Auckland and Hamilton. Fortunately, we were not in any way disappointed.

Pictures don’t do the food here justice – the flavours are deep, rich, and well-coordinated, every part of the dish contributing to the exquisite whole. My braised lamb pappardelle with olives, spinach, and parmesan ($25) was superb – the pasta was done perfectly, and the braised lamb was tender and juicy. The SO had fettucine bolognese ($22), which was rich and meaty, albeit simple. We regretted not ordering a pizza, after watching one of the guys in the kitchen load the dough into the woodfired oven – judging from the enthusiasm with which the couple at the next table finished theirs, it must have been good. However, the pasta was deceptively filling, and after finishing our sides of potato skins fried in truffle oil, ordering a pizza was certainly out of the question. Next time, for sure!

We had their cannoli for dessert, crisp pastries filled with custard cream which were delicious and delicate, well worth the $4 each. The SO had an espresso martini cocktail ($18) to finish – that was perhaps the only disappointment of the evening, as it tasted remarkably like… espresso.

Service was good, remarkably efficient and quick considering the number of people dining. There wasn’t the homely, personal sort of hospitality you might find in smaller Italian eateries, but that was to be expected in a restaurant of this size.


Summary: An amazing find in Wanaka, be sure to make a reservation even if dining mid-week


Cost: $20 – $30 pp
Food: 5 Stars
Service: 4 Stars
Ambience: 4 Stars
Value for money: 4 Stars


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