Leonardo’s Italian Food & Wine (Rotorua, New Zealand)
This was one of our first out of town after COVID Lockdown has been lifted in New Zealand, quite a late post as this happened a couple of months ago when we had a short getaway to Rotorua. Usually during our family birthday month which happens during July we tend to go travel overseas and it became a tradition, but since overseas travel is quite restrictive, we must stick to something local, why Rotorua? Well its near, just a three hour drive to Auckland plus it offers a lot of activity, from Zorb , Luge, Sky Diving, Mud Pools, Hot Springs, ATVs, you name it they have it.
We had tried most of them so during this trip we will try something new hence we went for the Redwoods Altitude Tree Top Walk and a horseback riding in Redwoods as well. Both experiences were great, we had a lot of fun specially the horseback riding where we were given racehorses. Anyways enough of that we here for the food and like our adventure we tried something new as well but in the same place where most good food in Rotorua are located Eat Street, this time it’s at Leonardo’s Italian Food & Wine.
This was an unplanned visit, in fact our first choice was Atticus Finch but they are closed on Mondays, we also checked CBK Craft Bar & Kitchen and Mac’s Steakhouse but we don’t feel like having steaks, so we went for an Italian. On our last Rotorua visit, we wanted to try this place but it was packed with people, this time around it’s not as packed, because there are no tourists and Kiwis were still hesitant to travel around but for a Monday it was surprising all of the tables in the outer section was occupied. We don’t like to be seated inside so we waited a bit until some tables had freed up.
Minutes later we were seated on a nice quiet corner with an overhead heater. Ordering service was great, the waiter carefully grabbed our order and I also asked some of his suggestions. This ended us up with an entree, three mains and wines.
We started with some Fried Calamari (NZ$15.00), served with kawakawa and Wakame mayonnaise. This one was perfectly cooked, very tender insides and very crisp on the outside, the only thing missing was the seasoning, it was bland, probably they forgot to add salt on it, luckily its easily fixable by the salt shaker from our table.
For the mains we have pasta, pizza and a meat, for Pasta we grabbed some Spaghetti Bolognese (NZ$23.50), served with Beef and lamb ragu topped with pecorino cheese served with garlic bread. If you love a meaty pasta then, this is your order, the ragu was overflowing with meat, I think there is more meat than pasta. It was good, this one was well seasoned.
For the pizza we had some Al fungi (NZ$21.50), served with Napoli sauce, mozzarella, garlic mushrooms, gorgonzola, fresh roquette, olive oil. This was my favourite out of all our orders, reminds me of Italy, dough was comparable to pizzas in Italy. The flavour was fantastic too, very earthy which I really liked, add to that the hints of gorgonzola, it was nothing but yum.
Finally, for the meat, we had this Tuscan style Lamb Shank (NZ$34.00), a braised lamb shank in a red wine tomato gravy. Served with a whole grain mustard, kumara and potato mash and garlic broccolini topped with gremolata. I was having a hard time choosing between this and pork belly, so I asked the waiter what is better, and this was his suggestion. It was good, lamb was fall of the bone, kumara and potato mash was creamy, it was one hefty meal. While I love the lamb, what I even loved in this dish was the garlic broccolini, this was honestly good, I just with it had many of this, it was well seasoned and cooked, very crispy but not bitter.
We enjoyed the dinner with some glass of wine, I just forgot what they were. We grabbed the cheapest Pinot Noir and Rose and it costed NZ$10.00 a pop, they were not Central Otago’s but I do loved it, so don’t be fooled by the cheap price, bummer I did not take a picture of the menu. Both were easy drinking wines but with good notes that cleanses your palate in a nice way.
It was a good dinner, it was winter, we were outside, but it was well heated, you won’t even notice it was cold. Service was fantastic, food was good apart from some small things, but it was worth it. If you are looking for an Italian cuisine in Rotorua, give this a shot, it might satisfy your palate like I do.
Leonardo’s Italian Food & Wine
Address: 1099 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand
Phone: +647 347 7084