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Photos By: Chrisitne Young
By 6.30 on a Monday evening Botticelli is buzzing; glasses of wine are being served and conversations are ramping up as couples and groups peruse the menu. Maitre d’ Diliana Klintcharova greets her guests. Many she recognises; all are welcomed as friends.
Botticelli is, she says, a family eatery, a friendly family restaurant. It’s also something of a Takapuna institution, having opened under Diliana and husband Vlado in 1994. Since then, they’ve established a well-earned reputation for its fresh pasta, hand-made on site daily, and its extensive menu of traditional Italian fare and exciting new takes on that developed by Vlado.
Vlado and his team of chefs – Hettie Tepania, Matthew Floyd (also maitre d’) and George Chobanov – won’t serve anything they wouldn’t enjoy eating themselves. The emphasis in everything they cook is on quality; the veal and venison are export quality, the chicken free-range. The extensive menu is augmented by regular and often inspirational 'specials', some of which start as an experiment and prove so popular that they become regular favourites on the menu.
“We still have some of the same dishes as when we started,” says Diliana, “but we are constantly adding new ones.”
All the pasta dishes and the antipasti are available in entree and main course sizes, and pizzas and pasta dishes are available gluten-free for a small extra charge. Most pizzas, pasta and main course dishes are also available to take away, and Diliana’s service even occasionally extends to delivery for customers unable to make it into the restaurant.
The food is complemented by a wine list that boasts the best of Italian, New Zealand and Australian wines. Pride of place on the wine list is a superb quality Sasseo Primitivo IGT Puglie. It’s complemented by Chianti (of course), a Velenosi Montepulciano and a Pino Grigio, all available by the glass as well as the bottle.
The evening Channel Magazine visited, customers started arriving right on opening time, as they do every day of the week. The kitchen team had arrived earlier to prep for the night ahead, and Diliana was all set to do what she loves best: Greet guests and make sure they enjoy their evening as well as the food.
Diliana is proud of the success of the restaurant – around 80% of customers are regulars, many coming from across Auckland to eat here. She attributes Botticelli's popularity to the delicious home-made dishes. But there’s little doubt that the welcoming atmosphere, and her presence as host is as much part of the attraction. After 22 years, she says, “I still enjoy being here. I can’t imagine not being here at night.” Just as many customers cannot imagine a week without their 'fix' of Botticelli’s taste of Italy.
Botticelli Italian Restaurant, 8 Anzac Street, Takapuna 09 488 0991 www.botticelli.co.nz
Open seven days from 5pm.
Channel Magazine: Issue 70 October 2016