A true stalwart of the Auckland dining scene, Prego has been serving classic Italian food since 1986. The restaurant has survived three recessions and a cut-throat hospitality scene – general manager Brandon Lela’ulu (who’s been with Prego for over 20 years) puts it down to the passion behind both the cuisine and the service.
The 125-seat restaurant is open seven days a week, and on any given day you’ll find a mix of suits, casual diners and families – including some long-time regulars who’ve been coming for more than three decades.
When the indoor dining room is full, you'll likely find yourself speaking at full volume – but that's part of the charm. The front courtyard is a drawcard, especially in the warmer months, but heaters also make al fresco dining comfortable in winter. Anyone walking past on a busy day is greeted by a glow of activity spilling from the two-level wooden villa onto Ponsonby Road; it continues around the side under a striking bougainvillea that blooms brightly against the white wall in summer.
Prego focuses on no-nonsense, comforting Italian fare made with love and quality in mind. The risotto all’anatra is a decadent duck and mushroom combination, and the Prego pie filling changes seasonally but it’s usually served with garlic-parmesan mash, green pea crush and port wine jus. There’s a list of classic pizzas, and a separate menu for more changeable aperitivi, primi, pastas, salads, fish, meat and sides.
The wine list boasts some New Zealand heavy hitters – Jules Taylor Wines, Amisfield and Clearview Estate, alongside an array of French DOC and Italian DOCG varietals. There’s also a selection of dessert wine to go with your tiramisu.
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