Just returned from a dinner at MariLuca Ristoro. Until the change of owners, it was previously Maria Pia’s – one of Wellington’s best restaurants.
The occasion was a farewell dinner with Auckland Girl who is returning to Auckland.
I was interested to see whether MariLuca could keep up the excellent food and service that was a trademark of Maria Pia’s.
For the wine, we went with a bottle of Gavi D.o.c.g. Duca di Aleramo 2010 Piemonte. At $42 a bottle it was very reasonable priced and a very good match to the pasta. So good, we had a second bottle. Very helpful that the wine list suggested foods it would match.
My entree was the Grigliata Impanata di Pesce, which was grilled prawn, squid, scallops and mussels in herbed bread crumbs. It was very tasty, and I had no complaints. 7.5/10. Auckland Girl had cockles, which were also delicious.
My main was the Pappardelle con Anatra, which was with braised duck sauce. It was quite simply magnificent. The pasta was home crafted, and the duck was exquisite. A 9/10 easily. Auckland Girl chose the gnocchi, which was also lovely.
My dessert (which I normally skip, but was a special occasion) was the gelato. Hard to get a bad gelato, and this one certainly wasn’t. AG went for the tiramisu, and from the sound of her groans of satisfaction, it was also very good. 8/10 for the desserts.
After dessert we had a port and a cognac. The service during the night was excellent and classy. The waitress (from Argentina) knew all the essentials such as how to properly pour wine, and was very friendly, but professional. The owner topped off the night by offering us a couple of lemoncellos on the house. I give the service a 9/10 also.
The overall bill was around $200, which for four excellent courses and two bottles of wine is very reasonable. A definite recommendation to those who want a classy night out, without paying the earth.
During the dinner, AG and I had fun playing Sherlock Holmes and trying to work out the backgrounds of all the other diners based on observation only. Our conclusions were:
- A table of two older men, and an older woman. Conclusion was a businesswoman out with her husband a a business colleague.
- A table of a young man dressed casually, a blond young woman in business dress and older woman. After considering they were a couple we decided they were brother and sister as they had no body language between them. Also he was dressed too casually for a date, and she had relatively little makeup on. The older woman was their mother, whom we suspect was from out of town, and this was her treat for them. Out detective skills were proven correct when at the end we heard her refer to them as her offspring.
- A man and woman in their 40s. Had one course only. Conclusion was a local Thorndon couple and this is their regular.
- Two men and two women, with one of each in their 40s and 50s. The men we decided worked together, and were out with their respective wives.
- A young asian woman and a slightly older ginga. She gave him a card. Our conclusion is she is a law student and he is probably her tutor and boyfriend.
- A man and woman in their late 30s. She was wearing an orange dress. Based on the dress we decided they were from Lower Hutt. They took 30 minutes to decide what to order, so were obviously not locals. Obviously a special dinner out, so I think it was an anniversary dinner treat for them.
We also discussed what people would probably guess we are, if they were doing the guesswork on us, we had done on them. We figured their guess on us would be a couple who had met over the Internet and were on their first date 🙂
Anyway, back to the restaurant, definitely has kept up the good standards of its predecessor, and a restaurant worth returning to.