Auckland’s St Kevins Arcade is many things to many people. It’s a shortcut to Myers Park from Karangahape Road, and a place for excellent coffee and brunch at Bestie. Maybe you go there for a massage from Nice Touch, a fresh ’do from Mo’s Hair Salon, a gig at Whammy or a fantastic meal at Gemmayze Street or Pici.

Now, you can also take home a great bottle of organic wine with the opening of Tappo, the Pici team’s new wine bar and shop.

It’s right next door to Pici, and has been a prep space for the pasta restaurant since March. Owners Gemma Hareb, Jono Thevenard and Kazuya Suzuki (who also have Ooh-Fa) decided to expand its usage only recently, and in a short amount of time have turned it into a welcoming space with its large central table, moon-like glass lampshade and wine bottles lining the shelves.

Pici and Ooh-Fa’s “wine guy”, James Pain, see Tappo as an extension of what they do at the restaurants – but with an obvious emphasis shift. “I think Tappo can be slightly more opportunistic,” he tells Broadsheet about what wines they’ll have on offer. “So, there'll be lots of different things coming through.”

They work with a lot of small producers who often only do small runs of wines, so Tappo will regularly have limited specials on top of the wider selection.

Seating 12 inside and about eight out the front, Tappo is designed to be a welcoming place where you can stop by for a drink from the glass list as well as the off-licence offering.

To eat, Thevenard’s dedicated bar menu includes light snacks such as beef carpaccio with horseradish; bean salad with pickled fennel; marinated mussels; crostini and local cheeses. The signature cheesecake with olive oil and sea salt makes an appearance, as does chocolate semifreddo with salted caramel.

Pain wants Tappo to be the antithesis of an intimidating wine experience. “I think something that can go wrong with wine culture is that you can sometimes sit there and be told what you should be tasting and how you should be feeling and how special the wine you’re drinking is,” he says. “But then you can sometimes miss actually feeling that from the wine itself – making a genuine connection with what’s in the glass.”

Having moved back to New Zealand from overseas in March 2020, Pain has cultivated close relationships with independent Aotearoa winemakers around the country over the last three years – and is happy to represent them in this setting. With Pici and Ooh-Fa’s Italian bent, Tappo also stocks wines from Italy that Pain says add a nice contrast and variety to the selection.

“For me, what’s special is the integrity and even the economy that sits behind [selling these wines].”

He’s happy looking at a room of people enjoying wines he knows were crafted by makers such as Brood Fermentation, Huntress Wines and Halcyon Days.

“The produce of the earth made on a small scale by genuine people.”

Shop 23, St Kevins Arcade
183 Karangahape Road, Auckland

Weds & Thurs 4pm–10pm
Fri & Sat 4pm–12am