Auckland is a sprawling city. Over the past couple of years, a new guard of excellent neighbourhood restaurants has been meeting the growing demand for great food and drink options outside the CBD – and it’s now joined by Ooh-Fa
From the team behind Pici, the 22-seater on Dominion Road draws on the crew’s knack for creating a community.
Pici founders Gemma Hareb, Jono Thevenard and Kazuya Suzuki have joined forces with chef Fraser Childs for the project. Originally from Christchurch, Childs has been making pizza for over 15 years, including at The Mediterranean Food Co’s pizzeria and store.
Deep fans of The Sopranos may have already guessed, but pizza is the linchpin of Auckland’s Ooh-Fa – along with a mostly organic wine list and simple small plates.
The long space feels snug despite raw textures such as the concrete walls and floor and upcycled wooden tables. There’s a curved, porcelain-tiled bar and a large silver woodfire pizza oven at the back. Front-of-house manager Shajal Singh looks after the floor, and bar manager James Pain is always keen to discuss wine at the bar.
Pici is loved for its no-nonsense, high-calibre food (and cult cacio e pepe), and Ooh-Fa’s team pledges the same handmade quality – but for slices instead of pasta.
The fermentation process is crucial to the flavour and texture of Ooh-Fa's pizza bases which use a two-year-old sourdough starter fed with a mix of stone-ground flours from Canterbury. The dough is then fermented for 72 hours and left to proof for six, before it's cooked in the oven for just over 60 seconds.
Toppings are seasonal and Italian leaning but not strictly traditional. You might order a marinara with optional stracciatella add-on, a topping of ‘nduja with ricotta, mozzarella and garlic honey or a kūmara (sweet potato), spring onion, garlic, mozzarella and black pepper pizza.
A selection of sides includes pickled cauliflower, carrots, beets, and onion with warm bagna cauda – a buttery anchovy dip. The smoky flavour of woodfired carrots is coddled with whipped ricotta and pistachios.
The wine list is vibrant and unconventional, curated with care by Pain who sources drops from small Aotearoa producers such as Amoise and Halcyon Days from Hawke’s Bay, and North Canterbury label Vita – think chilled reds, pét-nats, orange wines, and alternative grape varietals and blends.
Many of the wines can be traced back to sustainable farming practices, and most of the wine on the list is organic.
Keep an eye out for residencies by local DJs, and meet-the-maker wine events.
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