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An Italian escapade in the time of Covid.

Fabrizio and Taryne Napolitano

Establishing new roots in a city is always tricky. Seasoned operators will tell you that opening a new restaurant always throws up unexpected challenges. Add a quarter year of Covid-19 lockdowns, government restrictions and the somewhat unfathomable traffic-light/level-step systems and you get a very complicated recipe indeed. This is the tale of upcoming locale, Spiga. The hot new kid on the Remuera block, Spiga partially opened with just 20 seats three months before Auckland's August 2021 lockdown. In those three months they built up a strong local following, have a new pavilion just about to open and are looking forward to getting back to sharing their love of Italian cuisine and hospitality.

Owners Fabrizio and Taryne Napolitano met while working in Hong Kong and boast impressive international hospitality backgrounds as chefs and business owners. We sat down (virtually) to discuss their journey of settling into New Zealand and opening their restaurant during this time.

What is the inspiration behind Spiga?

“Spiga is a marriage between a traditional pastificio and a trattoria, serving daily hand rolled pasta and Roman style pizza and sharing the authenticity and tradition with all their guests.

We wanted to create a homely atmosphere where people could eat high quality authentic Italian food. Fabrizio is passionate about Italian food in every way. Before we settled in NZ, Fab went to Italy to travel around the country meeting producers, which in hindsight turns out to be a very fortunate luxury as we have not been able to connect to the land since.

We love that through this pandemic, customers have come to our restaurant to retell their stories and memories from their travels, a now distant memory. People are transported through flavours to their holiday’s past. We love that we can share that with them.”

What are your most popular dishes?

“Ravioli Alla Gricia and Tagliatelle Ragu are our two most popular dishes. Originally Fabrizio wanted to have a Pasta only restaurant, but with Covid looming in the background, I used this as an excuse to get Pizza on the menu too.... I mean, Fabrizio is an award-winning pizza chef after all, so it made sense!” laughs Taryne

Unfortunately, the lockdown and restrictions in Auckland had thrown a spanner in the works, where plans for the Pavilion, another section of the restaurant, had been disrupted.

“This was supposed to be opened in mid-October and we were looking forward to celebrating Christmas parties with our customers, but we’re rolling with the punches.” says Taryne.

With ongoing works taking place in the construction site that will soon become the Pavilion, Taryne and Fabrizio are hopeful and plan to open the Pavilion on 20 January 2022. Also, their operating times will extend to 7 days a week – happy days to come as the weather brightens up for summer dining!

How have you found settling down and starting up a business in New Zealand, especially during this time of Covid-19?

"We were going to turn up back in NZ and open something within 6 months, but with Covid-19 happening, we decided to hold back. It was after the first lockdown that we found our place in Remuera village and decided to go for it, because… this is who we are, it’s what we do. It has been difficult but I think anyone opening a restaurant should open for 3 months, then have a 5 week holiday! It’s taking a bit long now though… but our landlord has been great, really supportive."

Has the neighbourhood been welcoming? Have the take-away pizzas been a hit?

"Serving takeaways actually costs us more than it would to remain closed, but it allows us to keep our staff and customers engaged and we felt that was important.

We found that once we first opened people couldn’t travel so they were living vicariously through food and really enjoying this Italian experience we were able to provide for them. We were fully booked every night. We have just 20 seats until our pavilion opens and so to make it work we had 3 seatings per night which our customers just adjusted to.

We have developed a really lovely customer base and have had heartfelt messages from some of them during lockdown – they are ready to book and we can’t wait to open again – we are hoping it will be on the first of December."

You’ve heard it from us, we’re anticipating Spiga to become the gem of Remuera Village, attracting a following not just made up of Remuera locals, but from across Auckland in the weeks to come. Spiga has also attracted a great score from Viva’s restaurant reviewer, Jesse Mulligan.

Spiga will be open for dine in as soon as Auckland moves into the new COVID-19 Protection Framework. For now, you can view and order from the Click & Collect menu here.

Where & Opening Hours

Shop 1/E/415 Remuera Road, Remuera, Auckland 1050

Currently operating Wednesday – Saturday under L3 restrictions, click & collect for lunch and dinner

Holiday Hours

  • 25 & 26 December – Closed

  • 31 December – Open

  • 1 – 19 January - Closed

  • 20 January – Restaurant and New Pavilion open!

Image credit: Spiga/supplied


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