I walked into the Tauranga Coffee Festival around 1pm and the place was packed. Even though the sun was shining, the cold wind that blew through the space wouldn’t let me forget that it was still Winter. Luckily, this was a coffee festival and there was no shortage of food and drinks on offer.
I have been to Volare twice now, and each time the food and service have been phenomenal. Filipinos and Italians have a great love of food, so it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to this place. On Saturday I dined with my Mum, and friends Katrina, Jovial and Conrad. We were seated by 5.30pm, which worked in our favour as by 6pm the empty tables were filled with eager customers.
85 The Strand, Tauranga
Volare is a two story restaurant, with the upper floor balcony overlooking the Tauranga Harbour. Summer evenings and late sunsets allows diners to enjoy the view much later into the evening - and the cool breeze gives much needed relief from the humidity.
There is a certain finesse necessary for great hospitality - outstanding service has become a rarity, and is often highlighted when we come across it. Diners can choose between the retaurant menu or a less formal outing with tapas and drinks. I will like to try their tapas menu next time.
With the five of us, we ordered a few dishes and shared. For starters, it was the bacon wrapped scallops, polenta chips, salmon carpaccio with capers, and shrimps with garlic bread (which of course I couldn’t eat). The polenta chips had an interesting texture, much like deep fried couscous. The scallops were incredibly tender, and the salmon carpaccio with capers were a great start - delicate and full of flavour. Carpaccio is a great way to eat salmon for those who find the fish’s texture too oily for their palette.
For the mains we also shared an eye fillet, risotto with chicken, bacon mushroom and mascarpone cheese, gnocchi with blue vein bechamel, lamb rack and grilled Tarakihi with a pomodoro sauce. Unfortunately the Tarakihi was served with shrimps so I couldn’t try it. I can tell you that my new fave is the simple, yet creamy gnocchi - I’m a big fan of cooked blue vein. It really brings out that smoky nuttiness, and mellows out the often signature pungent aroma of blue vein, which is certainly an acquired taste.
If that didn’t seem like an incredible amount of gastronomical calories, we ended the evening with dessert - sharing a tiramisu, cannoli con frutta, pistachio and vanilla gelato, and a fondente al cioccolato. I felt like they should have a treadmill option at the end of each course to lessen the guilt.
That was a lot of food for one shorty, even if we did share it. Something the Italians do get right is the importance of regularly sharing a meal with loved ones. We don’t do it enough, and often wait for special occasions. It can be a humble meal, or a fancy feast. What matters is the company, the conversations and of course, the memories we create together.