Jono Thevenard has worked in kitchens since he was 18. He developed a love for pasta while travelling through Italy, and on his return to Auckland in 2020, he teamed up with Gemma Hareb, and chef Kaz Suzuki to open hit pasta restaurant Pici in St Kevins Arcade. This was followed by equally popular pizza joint Ooh-Fa on Dominion Road, with the team’s wine bar Tappo opening next to Pici this year.

Thevenard has a lot on the go, but when he gets the chance to dine outside of his own venues, here’s where he does it.

What’s your go-to for a quick takeaway?
Epolito’s Pizzeria is the real deal. I really rate the spicy sausage they make in-house. The pizzas are massive, and I always end up eating a few too many slices – it’s so good!

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How about lunch on the go?
I’m always drawn back to Carmel – Israeli Street Food. They do the best falafel pitas. They have a falafel machine that drops the fresh mix straight into the fryer. And the pitas are crazy soft – also made fresh every day. If I’m doing a barbeque at home I’ll pick some up, as I still haven’t figured out how to make my own as soft and pillow-like. The pastries and sweets are incredible and the coffee’s great – don’t be put off by the line as the food and coffee never take long.

And for a drink and snacks?
Cave a Vin in Milford is my favourite. They have a massive selection of natty wines and they always will open something interesting for you. The staff are all extremely experienced and know how to show you a good time.
If it’s your first time, let them take you on a ride and relax into some incredible food and amazing wine – think roasted half duck, poutine and oysters.

If it’s a special occasion, where are you headed?
Lillius, to me, is something very special. It’s super intimate and the food is at the highest level. I’m not kidding – on par with Amisfield, in my book. Fraser [McCarthy], the chef, is a true master of his trade, having entered the kitchen at age 15. He has committed his life to the art. It really shows in the way he delivers his food – mostly wild game and the best kai moana and produce from Aotearoa. He is also deep into fermentation. I suggest asking him some questions, as his depth of knowledge is something few people possess.

Where’s your favourite for great baking or pastries?
Mor Bakery. I find myself subconsciously driving out to Remuera to indulge in their treats. I do not know how they make their pastry so crisp. Nothing else will do.

And where do you think does the best coffee in town?
Bestie or Open are tied for me.
Both have solid coffee. I feel fortunate to have such great cafes on my way to mahi.

Do you have a go-to for a long lunch?
Ada has a whole new menu, which is delicious and something different to any other offering in Auckland at the moment. Kia [Kanuta], the head chef, has really poured his heart into this menu, and with his experience, it shows. The food is very polished but not fussy. If I have a free Sunday lunch, that’s where you will find me.