When an experienced restaurateur opens a new venue, often the new spot is informed by its predecessors. But, as Frank Camorra has found, sometimes it goes the other way. When Camorra and team opened Movida Auckland last year, they were so happy with the design that they commissioned the company responsible – Izzard Design – to redo Melbourne’s Movida Aqui. “We’ll be bringing the feel of Auckland to Melbourne,” Camorra tells Broadsheet.
Almost a year on from opening Movida Auckland, Camorra says they’re very proud of the product and service. “So far, so good. The size of the restaurant is bigger than the original, so there are slight differences as far as how we use the bar and what have you, but generally I think the overall response has been really positive.”
There have been a few challenges. The team’s access to Spanish produce has been a little “inconsistent”, he says; in Australia they import many of their ingredients directly from Spain. “On the positive side, the seafood that we can access in New Zealand is amazing. The quality, the freshness, the diversity of seafood – it probably outstrips Australia. So as far as produce – exceptional. Staff – amazing.”
Camorra notes a slight cultural difference in Auckland, where diners are yet to embrace eating at the bar. “We’ve been open for 20 years now in Melbourne, and that style of eating at the bar, with casual but still professional-style service, I think still needs to be more accepted in Auckland,” he says. He wants people to use Movida not only as a special-occasion place, but as somewhere to pop in and have a quick drink and some tapas before heading on to an event.
Right now the restaurant even has a menu special geared towards this – between 5pm and 7pm on Spark Arena show nights, you can swing by and try five tapas plates for $40 per person.
There’s a good roster of events keeping things fresh up at level two Seafarers. Camorra is coming over for a special Auckland Restaurant Month event marking 20 years of Movida Melbourne. The night doubles as a celebration of Camorra’s first gig in Auckland – also for Restaurant Month – nearly 10 years ago at Ostro: in the very space Movida Auckland now occupies. Talk about full circle.
“As Auckland’s always the first to come into the new year, we thought we’d do it in Auckland first,” he says. On August 2, Chef’s Table at Movida will see the team serve five courses of both menu stalwarts and “things that we’ve done on and off over the 20 years, but aren’t necessarily the classics everyone knows”.
Expect dishes like Ortiz Cantabrian anchovies with smoked tomato sorbet, pot-roasted burnt quail with Jerusalem artichoke, and an iconic Spanish flan for dessert. And with Camorra there himself, you can ask him all about the dishes’ place in Movida’s colourful and delicious journey so far.
Chef’s Table at Movida Auckland With Frank Camorra takes place on August 2. Find tickets and more information here.