An afternoon in Italy ... on Waiheke Island!

A Waihekean enjoys a taste of Italy on a weekend afternoon.

I’ve just spent the afternoon in Italy – only a ten minute drive from western Waiheke.  Eight of us, all women, went for a long luncheon at Poderi Crisci.  We had been recommended to choose the Chef’s menu.  This meant that they served five courses over several hours and there were no difficult decisions. 

Generally I’m a bit suspect about set menus because in the past I have experienced mass produced, generic food, but I needn’t have worried in this case.  It was all divine. The first course was set out and we were so excited that we dove straight into it and forgot to take photos for this review.  First up was marinated and poached fish with all manner of side dishes including sophisticated whipped mozzarella, vegetables done so exotically that one could not replicate it at home, breads, olives and high quality olive oil.  Now with regards to fish, there is no nice way to say it.  Waihekeans are fussy about our fish as most of us are lucky enough to have access to genuinely freshly caught fish on a regular basis. I’m not showing off – it’s just the way it is. It’s rare for us to order fish in a restaurant. It’s stressful, a risk that we won’t be happy and end up either quietly disgruntled or being a whinger and moaner.  But this fish really was delectable, moreish and there wasn’t any left when they cleared the platters from the first course. The herbs used in the kitchen are from the restaurants own herb garden which diners are encouraged to walk through and enjoy between courses.   

The service could not be faulted.  Our waitress spoke with a glorious Italian accent.  Each dish was described in great detail as it was presented and she confidently answered our many questions about the food.   Poderi Crisci’s own wines are a very refreshing elixir on a sunny day.  We were seated outdoors under a huge umbrella and marvelled at the gorgeous, relaxing view that was dominated by the green and lush surroundings. 

It’s obvious that Poderi Crisci take great pride in everything they do from the landscaping to the service to the quality of the food.  Let me ramble on some more about the food.  Melt in the mouth lamb wrapped in prosciutto, salad with the most glorious feta that we had a big debate about what sort it was as it was creamy like it could be spread with a knife, ravioli made from scratch that was perfectly al dente.  Little touches that stand out too, such as a sprig of rosemary garnishing the plate that you could tell was attached to the actual plant an hour beforehand. 

Looking back, our fresh water was topped up so regularly that somehow it happened invisibly.  The waitress took the time to speak to us individually to make sure we were happy.  One of our party was secretly hoping the dessert was tiramasu and to her delight it was.  We all very much enjoyed it apart from one person who simply isn’t into desserts.  We happily helped her out by devouring hers as well!  The waitress became concerned and asked her if she wanted a different dessert.  She didn’t, but that’s an example of offering service above and beyond.  It was a set menu after all. 

The weather was fabulous and there were a lot of diners there today.  We saw a couple of famous household names enjoying time out with their friends.  Please don’t ask me who they were. My lips are sealed.  What happens in Italy, stays in Italy.

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