Passione Italian Restaurant, Kaikoura, New Zealand

So, we really really really wanted to return to Green Dolphin for dinner, but we forgot to make reservations, and ended up stranded in the restaurant one cold drizzly evening. We'd hoped, fingers (and toes) crossed, that there'd be a last-minute cancellation, and a table for 2 would miraculously become available for us. It was just too bad that miracles don't happen everyday, and the waitress, amidst profuse apologies, rejected our pleas requests to dine in or takeaway (they don't do takeaways).

The silver lining, credited to Green Dolphin's extraordinary service, was the discovery of Passione Italian Restaurant. We wouldn't have thought to eat Italian cuisine in Kaikoura, but the manager at Green Dolphin recommended it, and even aided in securing reservations for us! How's that for the best service ever? And no, Green Dolphin isn't related to Passione in any way, so the suggestion wasn't borne out of a conflict of interest.

Passione is a bright airy trattoria located centrally in the heart of the Kaikoura town center - it's directly opposite the 4 Four Square Supermarket. A local favourite, it's frequently a full-house so be sure to make reservations as well. We didn't have any pastas, spying most tables cramped with pizzas, and it turned out a good idea to follow the crowd. Beautiful golden crusts imbued with a fragrant smoky char from the wood-fired oven, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and greased with homemade pomodoro sauce, you'll do well to hit up Passione Italian Restaurant if you're ever hankering Italian in Kaikoura. Or if the late-night munchies hit...they do takeaways!

The Italia (NZ$27), with prosciutto crudo, parmesan shavings, rocket leaves, on a base of tomato sauce and mozzarella was excellent. I loved loved loved the silky ribbons of salty cured ham.

The Prosciutto e Funghi (NZ$23) garnished with NZ ham and white button mushrooms, was an oldie but goodie classic.

A surprising hit was the Pollo Passione (NZ$32), the moistest chicken breast ever, simply marinated in rosemary, garlic, pepper and olive oil, served with a citrusy Mediterranean salad.

The restaurant facade.

Passione Italian Restaurant
New Zealand

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