This two-storey bar and restaurant is the sibling venue of Koji, which is located only a few metres away on Majoribanks Street. Owners Johnon MacDonald and Kat Strand explore Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern flavours at Rosella, designed to cater to a variety of group sizes and occasions.

The decor was designed by Strand to be sophisticated, relaxed and modern, with light shades of white, terracotta and tan punctuated with eye-catching texture and anchored with rich, deep brown walnut furniture and shelving.

Head upstairs to the second-floor bar, lined by a velvet banquette where you can nibble snacks and drink wine until 1am while candles glow.

MacDonald is the executive chef, and his cooking style favours big, bold, punchy flavours that often combine inspiration and techniques from various cuisines on one plate.

Here, he takes New Zealand produce – mussels from the Marlborough Sounds, Bostock chicken, lamb from Arrowtown’s Royalburn Station, vegetables from the Waikanae Community Market – and serves it with condiments such as harissa and whipped tahini, and spices like cumin, saffron and caraway.

Try the potato flatbread – crunchy, textured and layered with cumin salt and Kewpie mayonnaise, it’s inspired by the fragrant spices of Morocco. Braised red cabbage might be served with dates, red apple and harissa butter. Empanadas – traditionally from Latin America via southern Europe – could be filled with ’nduja and taleggio, which are usually associated with Italy.

Some of the smaller bites have punchier flavours and some larger plates are more mild – this is to provide balance to the palette across a meal.

Drinks-wise, the wines span makers from Aotearoa, Australia and the Mediterranean, while the cocktail menu embraces “fresh, floral and herbaceous” flavours. The house Martini is made with blood orange gin, bianco vermouth and herb oil, and there’s hibiscus in the house G&T, made with Roots gin from Marlborough.

Negroni lovers will have fun with Rosella’s selection: aside from the classic, there’s a French Negroni (with cognac instead of gin), a Kingston Negroni (rum), and a Boulevardier – which replaces the gin with bourbon.

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Updated: October 12th, 2023

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