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Terra Mia

Terra Mia

Terra Mia (28 Buckingham Street)

We smelt this place before we could see it, and it was pretty hard to go past once we had got that whiff. We opened the door for a peek, and were greeted by a series of ‘Ciaos!’ and a wonderful cabinet display of sweet and savoury pastries and cakes. There is a range of items on the menu; for a lighter, more inexpesnive option I would recommend the paninis (of which there were numerous flavours, or you could design your own) or if you don’t mind the splurge, the pizzas are fantastic! We opted to mix it up and share a pulled pork and mozarella pastry with a pizza. The baze of the pizza was perfect – crunch and doughy and chewy but not too heavy. We also ordered coffees, and as per usual the All Press beans delivered. At the back of the restaurant there is a wee shop with a few different pastas and sauces available for purchase. Apparently Terra Mia hosts a few different events, for example a table at the Long Lunch as well as a regular gnocchi night are both items on their agenda!

La Bella Italia

La Bella Italia

La Bella Italia (10 Nevis Street, Petone)

Yum, yum, yum, this place has the goods! People had told me that it was a good place to visit out in Petone, but I never really paid any attention until we spontaneously decided to go. This place is seriously awesome! It was like a big Italian warehouse, with so much happening and so much to look at, all at once! The walls are thoroughly decorated with all things Italian, and there is different tills lining the wall; there is the pizza man, the coffee man, the meats and cheeses man, the desserts… the list goes on. AND, on the other side there are a few shelves of Italian goods, if you want to transport yourself to an Italian supermarket.

The menu is authentic (there are plenty of Italian words used throughout!) and not too badly priced. The staff are lovely, charismatic and passionate about the food (like all good Italians). Both the pizza and the pasta dishes are of decent portion sizes; I had wanted dessert so badly but just absolutely could not fit it in.

This place is DEFINITELY worth your time. Even better, it’s not just a restaurant AND supermarket AND mini Italian museum, they also offer cooking classes and plenty of events. WOW.

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

Getting to Gili T (as it’s more fondly known) is pretty easy to get to, even if it feels time consuming. Most places you visit in Bali assume that visiting the Gili islands will be on your itinerary somewhere, and can suggest, even organise, your means of transport. Our hostel in Canggu organised ours. It was pretty confusing: we got picked up in a shuttle van and driven around a bunch of places picking up people, but our driver did seem quite lost so maybe that is while it took awhile. It was hard to tell what was going on, we just had to trust he would get us to the ferry on time. We arrive at Pai Beng and with hundreds of other people, joined the queue. Again it was hard to tell quite what was happening, and when we finally climbed aboard, we were all a bit reluctant to part with our bags – which were taken from us to be stashed on the top of the boat. A little over 2 hours later, we finally arrived.

We stayed at an Air BnB which was so nice we ended up extending our stay. It has two rooms (three beds) and two bathrooms. (Get in touch if you would like the details of the host). We were fortunate that it was incredibly close to where the boat had docked – none of us were keen on catching the horse and cart taxis (the horses all looked pretty miserable). Although Gili T has a rep as the ‘party island’, there is definitely so much more going on than clubbing. Here are some of my favourite recommendations:

1   Hire a bike and cycle the island. It is possible to walk it, but biking gives you so much more freedom to take your time and stop at the different beaches, without ever being too far from the finish line. It probably takes about 2 hours to cycle it (at a meandering pace) and would definitely take less if you didn’t stop at all.

2   Outdoor food market. Occurring each night, it is possible to sample local Balinese deliciousness at incredibly cheap prices. There are both sweet and savoury options and is always bustling with locals and tourists alike. Be a little bit careful though; no-one wants Bali belly whilst on holiday!

3   Sunset swings. Probably easiest to do as you are cycling around the island, but you may need to plan ahead if you intend on cycling in the dark. You can’t go to Bali and not get a photo with these iconic beauties! It isn’t essential that the sun is actually setting when you snap that shot, but it is pretty important to make sure the tide is high enough that the swings actually have water below them (and not just grotty sand).

4   Experience the night life. There are a bunch of cool bars and clubs dotted along the waterfront which are sure to provide a good time. We were pretty careful with out drinks, sticking basically to beer (and almost exclusively Bintang). There is a place which is set up entirely for beer pong, and you get free popcorn (as if you needed any more incentive!). Sama Sama Reggae Bar (turns out you can actually stay here too!) was a real highlight; great atmosphere + live music = great combination for a fun night out!

5   Sign up for a snorkelling tour. Hands down one of the best things I did while in Bali, it certainly created some lifelong memories. On every street corner (and every second vendor between) are stalls with people offering a variety of tours, each one more keen than the last for you to sign up. Shop around, or just pick one – it doesn’t really matter, but at least once you do sign up you can tell the other vendors that. On our snorkelling trip we went to three different spots as well as Gili Air for lunch, and we were fortunate enough to spot several sea turtles. The trip goes for about 5 hours and it is ideal to go in the morning in case the wind picks up.

6   Gili Air is only a short boat ride away and Gili Meno is even closer. Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands and basically consists of a turtle sanctuary (it was off the coast of Gili Meno that we swam with turtles). Gili Air is larger, and is known to be more serene and beautiful than Gili T. It is popular with those looking for more of a peaceful retreat. Even though we didn’t spend too much time here, it is somewhere I would seriously consider staying next time I’m in Bali.

7   Gili Yoga. It was a lovely way to begin the morning, especially when we finished it off with breakfast at The Banyan Tree next door. There is an abundance of healthy options on Gili T (and of course, some not so healthy options too), you can read my post on food on Gili T here.

Sal’s Pizzeria

Sal’s Pizzeria

I got told my life was going to change when Sal’s made its way to Wellington; well it has, and I’m not sure that did. Sal’s claims to have authentic New York style pizza, which may be right, but it’s certainly doughy and cheesy and greasy, so you have to be in the absolute right mood for it.

Located on Cuba Street, Sal’s feels very ‘American diner’ from the moment you step inside. With sports blasting from the TVs, a big drinks fridge and uphosltery styled seats (appropriately red) I instantly felt transported to the USA. The pizza was cheap, and you can also order a variety of different bready knots and pinwheels etc (pictured above are the garlic knots, they were pretty tasty).

Probably not my preferred pizza option in Wellington (#classy) but even if I was getting takeaway I still think I would choose elsewhere before I got Sal’s again. But if that kind of pizza floats your boat, by all means there was nothing wrong with it.

Danger Danger

Danger Danger

Danger Danger (132 Courtenay Place)

Danger Danger is a retro-themed bar on Courtenay Place. Bordering on tacky, but with a certain charm about it, by day it serves up jugs, pizza and burgers and by night it turns into more of a club. Slightly unattractive is the stench of alcohol that hits you as you open the front door, but you soon look past it as your eyes hone in on the neon lighting, high tables and music videos screening from the walls. There is an upstairs part to it as well, so overall the place is pretty massive.

Danger Danger offers great bargains most nights of the week – whether it be two for one burgers, two for one pizza or cheap jugs, all of them make the food really great value. While the food itself is nothing to write home about, it’s better than average, so makes for a very cool spot to grab a drink with friends after work.

  

Pipi Cafe

Pipi Cafe

Pipi Cafe (16 Joll Road)

Pipi Cafe in Havelock North would have to be one of the most iconic spots that the village has to offer. When it first opened I remember thinking it’s bright pink decor was a bit of an eye-sore, but over time it has certainly grown on me and most over locals. Part of its charm has come from the publishing of its very own cookbook (which you can buy from their website) as well as the Pipi Food Truck, which makes its way around town, visiting different gigs and events and sometimes even making it as far as Wellington.

Pipi Cafe is on Joll Road, so just a few minutes walk from the main roundabout. You can’t miss it, seriously, it is bright pink. The place is usually busy (thus bookings are recommended), but it has a few different seating areas (the covered area out front as well as the wee courtyard outback in addition to the main body) so even if you have to wait you’ll probably be able to get a table before long. Once you take a seat, feel free to grab your own drinks from the fridge. The staff can be quite brisk, but not all – so don’t assume the worst!

 

The cuisine is Italian themed and I would highly recommend the pizza. The bases are so delicious, and you can get some quirkier pizza flavours in addition to the classics. I love the walnut and rocket pizza, but I always find it hard to go past the specials (I have previously had pulled pork; roast apricot and chicken; and fish and yuzu – all were 10/10). They come in three sizes, and takeaway is possible (although a relatively expensive form of takeaway in my opinion). There is also a standard menu with a range of meat dishes and pasta. The flounder is a fan favourite, if you don’t mind having a whole fish served to you! I think that although the pizza would be some of the best in HB by far, I am less of a fan of the rest of their menu. However, I am a massive fan of the giant jar of jaffas that sits next to the till when you pay – way better than mints!

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

A tourist destination as popular as Gili Trawangan usually means one of two things: lots of incredible food (survival of the fittest and all that) and lots of tourist scams. Unsurprisingly we got both, despite our best efforts to avoid the latter. Fortunately, we stumbled onto some real crackers very early on, so we always had some great go-tos during our stay there. Of anywhere we went in Bali, Gili T was the most hit and miss. It’s absolutely worth loading up Trip Adviser if you are going somewhere new – because no-one really wants to endure a tourist scam if possible. If you have got the time, check out the following:

 The Banyan Tree. An early discovery, and located so close to our accommodation we sure made ourselves at home at The Banyan Tree. Serving a wide range of extremely healthy food, this place sure knew how to do some killer #cleaneats. Both vegetarian and vegan options were in absolute abundance, and even the most healthy unusual dishes sounded delicious. All of the seating is upstairs and you can sit inside or out. Takeaway options are available, and the staff were absolutely fantastic; extremely attentive and accommodating. I would highly recommend a stop here, and don’t forget to take your shoes off before you go inside.

 

‘Same same but different’ is how some would describe the Kayu Cafe compared to the Banyan Tree. Serving up healthy numbers from sunrise until mid-afternoon, the Kayu Cafe has a huge selection of smoothie bowls, raw treats, pastries and brunch items available and a super relaxing vibe to enjoy them in. The food is moderately priced – perhaps before expensive that what you’d find elsewhere in Bali, but still cheaper than anything you’d find at home – and definitely one of those places where you can take confidence that whatever you order will be tasty.

While on holiday there is only so much healthy food that one wants to eat, and as soon as you’re feeling like a more indulgent meal, head right over to Regina’s. One street back from the main drag lies one of the best pizzerias you may ever visit. The prices are cheap (I’d almost go as far to say half the price of a few of the places we ate at), the pizzas were massive (the four of us ordered four pizzas and ended up taking the equivalent of a whole pizza home) and the food was as authentic as what you could find in Italy. As always, full marks for great service – the Balinese way it would seem, and we left as very content customers.

Last but not least The Roast House. Sooner or later you’ll probably crave a taste of home, and when you do, head along to The Roast House for some pub-style grub. Admittedly the decor is slightly odd (kind of dark and vintage feeling) and the kitchen is across the road from the restaurant. However, the food is really tasty. Ironically, I went for the mi goreng (when in Indonesia right?) but everyone else ordered meals like sausages and mash, chicken parmigiana and fish & chips. Although the food was pretty tasty, I thought on the whole it was relatively overpriced for a sub-par meal that we’d get at home.

 

Tripoli Bistro

Tripoli Bistro

Tripoli Bistro (452 Queen Street, Masterton)

Masterton has always been a town that we pass through on the way to or from HB and Wellington, but one that I have never really paid much attention to in terms of food. Over the years our stop-offs for food have evolved from McDonalds to Turkish to Pizza… but on my recent passing through we decided to stop at Tripoli Bistro.

It was small, cute, and pretty busy for a Friday night. Our waitress was attentive, and took our orders very quickly. There was a good selection of fine dining options (pork belly, lamb shank, chicken and the like) as well as a huge pizza menu with loads of interesting flavours. We were in a pizza and chips kind of mood so we gave two of the pizzas a go; both were very tasty. Our soft drinks were a little disappointing, I think they had been watered down a tad too much.

Definitely somewhere I would come back to on my next journey through Masterton.

Fratelli

Fratelli

Fratelli (15 Blair Street)

This place caught my attention during Wellington On a Plate 2016. It received some absolutely glowing reviews, and I was baffled because I live just down the road and could have sworn that I had never noticed this place. I made it my mission to go, and together with a group of us we headed along to Fratelli one night for the $4o feast. This entails a set menu where you get to pick an option for entree, main and dessert. The feast only runs on a Monday and Tuesday night, and it’s absolutely essential that you book. We went on a Tuesday night, and were astonished at how full the place was, even once it got as late as 9pm (sometimes I think I forget that I now live in a big city, where things stay open past dark!).

For an entree we ordered a mixture of garlic and herb bread, margarita pizza and olives. From the get-go we knew we were in for an absolute treat. The base to the pizza and the bread was so thin, light and fluffy that it made me extremely excited for what was to come. As I no longer eat beef, I was especially over-joyed to see that the pappardelle dish was made with pork shoulder (rather than the traditional beef ragu). In with a grin, the portion of pork shoulder was absolutely perfect – leaving me full, but still with room for dessert. We couldn’t say no to the tiramisu, but we also ordered a raspberry vinaigrette sorbet to accompany it, and both were spectacular. The tiramisu was right up there with one of the best I have ever had – I think the reason being that it was more focused on the chocolate, rather than the cream.

Overall it was a fantastic night. I think when I go back, I would probably opt to do the feast again because it felt like such good value – but there are also so many other delicious items on the menu. Go Fratelli!

Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia (14B Pacific Ave, Mt Maunganui)

I can safely say that even after living in Italy, my appetite for pizza and pasta has never once faltered. I love it. Comfort food at its best; I must admit that my default is to usually order pizza. Not on this occasion; as orders from around the table were taken, I realised that this would be a good opportunity for me to try a pasta dish.

Mamma Mia is tucked away just off the main street of the Mount, and although it looks only small it actually fits a surprising amount of people. It is BYO (corkage is free), but has a few wines and beers available also. The staff are authentically Italian, and are super pleasant and knowledgeable. Although it took awhile for them to come take our order, I am happy to attribute that to the fact that our large group chatted for a long time before making it obvious we were ready to order.

The food itself was pleasant. I had been warned that the pasta portions were small, and I can understand how a guy may think that – but the sauce on the Wild Pork Ravioloni was rich enough that the serving size was entirely adequate for me. We were full, but it was hard to say no to dessert: especially when it calls for chocolate lovers and requires 20 minutes notice to bake! A bunch at the table ordered it and we weren’t disappointed – who can deny a chocolate lava cake, steaming hot and oozing chocolatey goodness! The tiramisu was also wonderfully authentic. Needless to say, we went home having eaten way too much (always the way when I eat Italian!).