We sat down with Michael Dearth, co-owner of renowned Italian inspired restaurant Baduzzi, on Wynyard Quarter to talk about its history, some of its special qualities and what we can look forward to from the upcoming winter menu.
What is Baduzzi’s story?
‘First of all, Baduzzi literally means ‘meatballs’ in Sicillian. With the naming of the restaurant I’m referencing the dish known as the Italian American Wedding soup. The soup is in fact not one which is served at weddings, rather it is a casual dish which describes the marriage of flavours achieved by combining hearty greens and meatballs in a delicious broth, this is the kind of food I grew up on. I like to use the idea of Baduzzi as a metaphor—‘through simplicity you find greatness’. I try to thread this philosophy through all my work, though this especially exemplifies how our team approaches each day at Baduzzi.’
What is something about Baduzzi that people wouldn’t know?
At Baduzzi we like to think of our food as Italian inspired. Some may not realise at first but Italian cuisine has evolved as it’s travelled across the globe. From those who carried the traditions of Italian cooking to the U.S, to Australia to Spain and back again, they’ve each added to practices first developed in the homeland. Even in Italy the food is different from the north to the south. Exploring all the variations of Italian culture is one of the many ways we stay creative and provide customers with the best experience possible.
What was the original vision for Baduzzi?
I first envisaged Baduzzi as a little hole in the wall shop which would serve simple meatball sandwiches and pasta reminiscent of the metball I grew up on. When we went about finding a location it became clear that our vision needed to evolve.
Describe Baduzzi’s inspiration behind the new winter menu.
In our restaurant, we like to celebrate the seasons as best by designing dishes that are super simple which really focus on seasonal produce that’s only around for a short time. For our upcoming winter menu, we’re putting together a little ravioli, made with sage, butter and a Jerusalem artichoke puree.
What brings diners back to Baduzzi?
We’ve created an environment in which people can come and experience the rich history and traditions of Italian food and culture. In saying this, we explore and push the boundaries wherever possible meaning that our dishes are always changing whilst maintaining a distinctly Italian feel. I believe our ability to experiment and our emphasis on enjoyment is what brings people back.
What is a staff favourite dish?
A popular dish with our staff is a delicate ravioli filled with gurnard, a local fish. We make the fish into a beautiful mousse then put a nugget of crayfish on top and fold the dough to create the ravioli.
What is unique about your wine list?
We like to source Italian varieties grown in other parts of the world besides Italy itself. Here we are celebrating the rich history of Italians travelling and taking their culture with them. We even hold wine from Italian vines grown here in New Zealand; the Sangiovese grown in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne wine regions.