Zibibbo Restaurant Wellington – odd name, great food

Most of the eating out I do seems to be work-related. My trip to Wellington this week produced gluten-free sandwiches at the airport and gluten-free breakfast and morning tea at the Amora Hotel. We also ate out one evening. My Wellington-based colleague recommended Zibibbo as being close to the Amora Hotel and good food. I duly booked for all of us, and called them to check that they had gluten-free options on the menu – which they assured me they did.

The location was great, and enlivened by the pub underneath which had the entertaining sign “Good beer, no shit” on the blackboard outside. Downstairs there is a tapas bar, with tables in booths and a small bar. Upstairs is a more conventional restaurant with a classic look and unfussy but stylish decor.

The menu was awesome, but had no markings on it as to the gluten-content of any of the dishes. I had a look and worked out what seemed to be gluten-free and then checked with the waitress. She went back to the chef to check a couple of things, and came back very quickly with the information. We ordered tapas for the table as a starter, and without me asking, she brought me out rice crackers to eat with the pate. She also took a little time to tell me about the items on the tapas plate and which were gluten-free. Of the nine items, about half were fine for me to eat. Sadly, a number of these were prawn or seafood related. I’m fine with fish, but shellfish are as much of an issue as gluten is. I was forced to eat the risotto balls and porcini balls, even though they were crumbed with normal breadcrumbs, because the rest of the table were raving about them. They were delicious! I ate the salmon mousse out of the little cornets (spread it on my rice crackers, thank you very much!) and enjoyed the cerviche very much.

My main was steak with a potato galette and a porcini duxelle – a kind of chunky mushroom puree. Very nice. We were all too full for dessert, but there was an impressive range of coffees.

So overall, I thought that the menu was great and there were plenty of gluten-free options (half of the main courses). The waiting staff were well-informed and very happy to go back to the kitchen with questions. They were also thoughtful – the rice crackers were a lovely touch, so whoever thought of this, thank you! I’d recommend this restaurant highly for anyone. The price range was $30+ for a main, but the food was delicious and the servings were generous and beautifully presented. A very nice dining experience indeed.

Zibibbo can be found at the Old Police Station Building, 25-29 Taranaki Street, Wellington. Just across the road from Te Papa and the Wellington institution, the Green Parrot.

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