Julie said: "You do wonder sometimes if restaurants that get rave reviews by everyone really will live up to your expectations. Clooney has on all accounts – the food was superb (pork belly was amazing), the service was impeccable and the…" read more »
Toto has long been known as one of Auckland’s premier Italian restaurants ,and when a Grabone deal popped up, offering a 6 course meal each for two people for $120 (half the price), I seized it with an intention to also order a la carte and thus gain a wider appreciation of this lauded kitchen’s chops. We entered the restaurant with a reservation beforehand, and a table right next to the entrance was given to us, and the extra chair which was needed was pulled up from a nearby table. The influence of a subsidized meal may have played a part in our thankless location, but it may be kept in mind that by the end, our anticipated tariff including extra orders and $10 per person charge for the special Saturday-only opera night, had reached more than double of the voucher deal price. NZ Herald says that this restaurant interior- with its wood, candle-light and countryside elegance- is “casually majestic”, but from where I sat, the view looked more like a wayside inn. We hoped the food would placate.
Tuna carpaccio- You could barely taste the tuna, but that is not a serious complaint given how beautifully light this course was. Starter secondi – The zesty meat of the banana prawns coupled with smooth cauliflower puree and hints of roasted garlic made for an enticing syncytium of taste. The din in the restaurant meanwhile had ratcheted up. It seemed the arrangement was ideally suited to a couple not talking to each other- first the noise of the crowd blots out much of your voice, and then when the opera begins, you are again obliged to be silent. Anyway, the opera was an undoubtable highlight, with two rounds of it and a break in between as the lady singers occasionally wove their way between patrons while letting their sopranos saturate the place. The singing can be lushly romantic and has ripe potential to transform the nature of the evening. The first lady looked the part, the second one was voluptuous by sight too and both entertained us amply with their soaring arias.
A wintry warmer was then presented to our table in form of high-quality excellently cooked salmon with chick peas and spinach but all this could have been lifted some tenors higher by sassier seasoning. An la carte choice of baby calamari did not transcend its age, but ’twas generously portioned and had the required slickness, crunch and wafts of marine phantasms. The second a la carte choice of gnocchi, prawn and vegetal bits had good ingredient quality but simply didn’t construct cohesive joy
Service, especially for what ought to be a classy joint, was average, lacked warmth and the waitstaff’s presence at the table was hurried. There were sporadic positives, like a delayed but spirited refilling of glasses and endeavours to reposition out-of-place napkins but we were never asked about our state of satisfaction, while they did ask whether we needed a wine encore. I found the crowd to be a wonderful mix of interesting, photogenic, young,reflective,middle-aged,animated and generally charming ladies and gents mostly of European extraction.The degustation recommenced with Duck Tortellini that was boldly al dente, balanced by an unctuously smooth filling, and surrounded by an enjoyably buttery mushroom ragu.
Venison – I could not taste this dish in its entirety but sampled enough of it to attest that the thin slices of this were a textural success with the protein lending itself gladly to the influence of its accoutrements.
Our last from-the-menu choice was the kitchen’s biggest mis-step that evening- a mixed seafood risotto that capsized our expectations. The rice was undercooked, the sauce base lacked smooth finish, the cockles and octopus failed to find their depth while the only redeeming feature was sensuously soft snapper. Considering how filling the quantity of this was and how underwhelming its quality, this is the type of dish that disappoints you while leaving no space to taste its atonements. Moving on, I liked the style of Mr.Calvin the maitre’d, a beefy middle-aged bare-scalped suit-clad gentleman who attended to us with chummy efficiency and alacritous confidence.
Satisfaction continued with dessert -Autumn fruit strudel was pleasant enough, but the real alabster orb of the show was the cinnamon ice-cream. The said essence with its inimitable deep whiff of integumental perfume, and spice wedded to sweetness, had claimed the soul of that cool creamy dollop in complete but perfectly restrained style.Toto is unquestionably capable of making fine food, but considering all restaurant parameters it falters in attention to exacting detail,and that applies to the food too. It occupies an uneasy niche between being a bustling bistro and a fine-dining joint, titling more towards the former and dangling occasionally into the latter realm. Our pleasure that evening, was in toto by half.
Firstly I need to say that the food was delicious, our compliments go to the Chef, however the level of service made our whole experience extremely average and underwhelming.
The evening began with the waiter pouring a bottle of dark Beer so quickly into the glass that it overflowed to cause a stain the size of a dinner plate in the middle of the white tablecloth. He didn’t apologise, offer to bring a new bottle or replace the table cloth.
We were drinking different wines with our meal so ordered by the glass. The quantities varied widely with the smallest appearing not much more than half of a full measure. Three out of 6 were below the measured line on the glass which at the price is unacceptable. Our main waiter gave us the impression that he couldn’t be bothered with us; he didn’t collect unused or empty glasses off the table, forgot part of our order and showed a general lack of care.
In terms of ambience, we were seated in a far corner outside and as the evening got darker were not provided with any extra light / lamp / candle etc.
Overall a very disappointing evening from a place that is supposed to be one of Auckland’s best. We won’t bother going again.
We were cautious after reading this site but we had a fabulous night. Beautiful food, friendly service and the opera was lovely. The degustation menu was a delightful journey of tastes.. Thanks Toto.
We had read a couple of reviews and were somewhat nervous about using our voucher for a degustation lunch. We now wonder what restaurant these people were talking about. Our experience was absolutely first rate from the minute we walked in until we left. Service was excellent with wait staff being very pleasant and attentive yet unobtrusive. the food was delicious and matched well with appropriate wines. We spent a most enjoyable 2 1/2 hours savouring each course. Quite one of the best meals we have eaten out of Italy. Thanks Totos.j
Service was excellent. Waiter was informative and friendly.
Waitress was also excellent, attentive and very friendly.
Food was generally good and portions generous especially the calamari entree which was ridiculously big. Rabbit canneloni was excellent. Duck and pork belly mains were a bit average, risotto was very good.
Biscuits with the coffee were dissappointing.
Overall we thought it was over-priced, especially as every extra cost eg aparagus, bread, water and then quite a lot.
I’m a long time fan of Toto and I’d like to see the return of Yum Ciao, this was not its finest hour.
I am a regular of Toto’ and always thoroughly enjoy my time there.
Saturdays are always my favorite because of the Opera.
My most recent visit was no exception even though we went on a Friday.
We had a lovely waitress who was all smiles and accommodation and was very patient with the colleagues I was with when they were exceedingly indecisive over the menu. She took the time to explain each dish to them and had good knowledge of each item which I find is rare in restaurants nower days.
We had the the Affatato and cocktails to start and shared the entree between us. They make the bread in house and it came out fresh and warm.
We took our time, (my friends are particularly slow eaters) and we didn’t feel rushed to make the table available again which we find sometimes in other places.
For mains we had the Pork, Duck and I had the Ravioli that I cant resist having every time I go. (it’s that good!).
Pork was cooked really well, with a good juicy meat and a snap on the crackling and the Duck was beautifully done. The portions are proper “Mama” size and you certainly don’t leave feeling hungry.
The sommelier matched wines for us with our mains and again, took the time to chat to us about the wines and why they would suit what we were eating. He wasn’t wrong.
We finished up with the dessert platter for two, which was plenty for the three of us. Fav’s were the tirimasu and the panacotta.
Over all i always have a great time at Toto’. In summer I prefer to sit out on the deck, and winter the roaring fires on either end of the dining room make a really cosy evening. Definitely not one to miss.
We went for the Lunch voucher deal for 6 course degustation ($120 for 2 person) and it took us 3 hours, that is 30min per course, extremely slow service and the restaurant was only half filled.
Only the desert was good, we left two dishes untouched as they were too salty (complained about the first dish, nothing happened, and dish immediately followed was equally salty…)
Majority of the staff were rude and unprofessional – no smile and a waiter spilled a significant quantity of water outside my glass, no apology, no clean up and just left.
The restaurant was loud and hot, we did not have an enjoyable experience.
We will not return.
Unbelievably disapointing, one of our worst ever meals out, and we dine out often.
Went there with my partner in early September 2012 for a 6 course degustation meal to treat ourselves. Admittedly we had bought a voucher deal ($120 for two vs the $240 for two which is apparently the usual price). So maybe they treated their customers accordingly. Even so I would have got a far better meal including drinks for $120 at loads of other restaurants.
On a wet and windy night we were greeted with a smoky atmosphere, the wood fire was roaring a bit too much and chimney wasn’t up to it meaning the restaurant was smoky enough to make our eyes water.
This was the menu:
•Selection of Italian stuffed bread and focaccia
•Te matuku osyter, cured salmon, crostini, fennel, toto’s classic
•Octopus carpaccio, fennel, citrus salad, macadamia
•Prawn and pumpkin tortelloni, saffron broth
•Mushroom and duck risotto, truffle oil
•Venison loin, beetroot carpaccio, forest mushroom, caprino
•Fig panna cotta, mango sorbet, chocolate cone
Sounds great (if not a bit poncy). However we had luke warm-cold meals when they should have been hot, plates of food that tasted so bad we couldn’t eat them (with no comment from the waiting staff when plates were cleared), mean portions, and major waiting times between each course.
Highlight of the night was the tiny panna cotta and sorbet which was lovely. Pretty much everything else was so bad we could hardly believe it. Spoke to a colleague at work the next day who had exactly the same experience with the food (minus the smoke).
Politely said we were disappointed with the meal when were asked when settling our bill, that came to nothing too, staff just don’t care.
Wouldn’t go near it again, awful food, bad service, and a dead atmosphere, couldn’t wait to leave.
Fantastic as usual. Never been disappointed with anything here, and trust me I am one of the more fussy diners out there. The service is always attentive and well timed, meals well portioned, tasty and unique. Everything from the fresh breads, amazing pasta dishes and stunning desserts goes down a treat. The decor is perfect for an intimate night or a family gathering, definitely will be a night to remember
My husband and I have been to Toto’s about 2 years ago and really enjoyed the food, service and everything about it. So we decided to celebrate my 30th last night there. To be honest we were absolutely disappointed and my birthday experience was nothing to remember. They had changed the menu from last time. We had a reservation at 8:45pm, however had to wait at the bar till about 9:15. The bruschetta was dry, with some tomatoes and non existent buffalo mozzerella. The fish of the day was unavailable for the mains so we decided to go for the Gnocchi. It was very bland and had no seasoning on it, and the eggplant and zucchini were undercooked. The chocolate mousse tasted like truffle instead. And to add to it each course took about 45 mins to get to the table. By the end of it, I was irritated and couldn’t wait to get out of there. We are never going back there again.
We ate at the meter long pizza place! Its simply amazing! The best pizza I have ever had! have been there many times this year. So glad we found this pace! 10/10!
All our friends are fans of this place and simply cannot get enough. sucks we cant get out own drinks, but other than that awesome place! They should advertise more about this place so everyone knows. because its in the basement its not very visible. Definitely a must try place!
Went to Toto for an evening of opera and fine Italian treats. Proved to be an odd but interesting experience.
Food and wine were great. Service brisk and attentive. Wine was decanted and left to warm by a real fire – nice!
Good on Toto for experimenting with a novel restaurant experience and sorry to the opera singer who I assumed was a waiter…
TOTOs Restaurant on Nelson St, Auckland – not cool at all. 11 of us went there – ordered and had a good old time in each others company. i asked to order, but apparently the lady (not me who is meerly female) had to order first as that how they numbered the table. i think he may have been head waiter / shift supervisor – he was rude. my duck entree and lamb main was tops. the gnocchi had by 2 others tasted like over cooked soggy mac and cheese. the beef ravioli the person next to me had tasted like badly made beef strog in mediocre pasta. the only other person who really loved their meal was the snapper ‘fish of the day’ main. and at the end we couldnt split the bill. not that this was anywhere on the menu, or a sign on the wall. he (rude guy already mentioned) said the system didn’t do it. then he said they had done it before and were lumped with unpaid bill. i offered to stay and pay any balance but he then said it was the owners policy. who was not there and was unable to be contacted by phone (on the moon perhaps?) And then he said that such is just not done in a fine dinig restaurant. thanks if you managed to read all of this – all I’m saying is that TOTOs is on the ‘thumbs down’ list for us. on the upside, there is a french place 3 doors down (cnr nelson and vic st) where the food is good and the staff are all french and really friendly. TOTOs – shame on you.
I definitely recommend this place to who ever wants to try authentic Italian food. I lived in Italy for nearly 10 years and at Toto the flavors are as fantastic as the ones you try in the best restaurants in Italy. Grazie! Luis
1) Portions were huge – too large and though most were tasty over all slightly disappointed at the taste. Veal was a bit bland and fish was similarly a bit of a let down. It’s one thing to be an Italian restaurant with all the different parts to the menu (starters, entree, first main, second main, dessert) but then seems odd that you’d go and serve huge portions and look quizzically at the customer when they order multiple dishes. Why not reduce the portion size a lot, and price a little, that would encourage people to have more courses and make the whole meal feel more like an ‘event’.
2) Service was OK to start with then got increasingly pissy for some reason.
Weren’t particularly helpful or accommodating when we asked to have food wrapped up for take away. One of the dishes for wrap up and take away simply vanished and never came back after the waiter said “I’ll try”.
3) Waiter didn’t take order on a notepad, which seemed impressive at first until he messed up one of the orders and forgot a request for water. Fairly minor things – but then, why not just use a pad? We won’t think less of you, you’re only human.
Overall, was disappointing compared to how I remembered previous meals there. With all the great places to eat in Auckland, there’s no reason to go back here for a long time.
Just had dinner here. It was a beautiful place, decor just great, adds to the feel of place, good vibe.
Food was good, will recommend the dessert platter for two, prefect.
Service was good, thanks Frank, small problem with bill, but all sorted in the end.
All in all it would be a place I would go back to again.
Having dined at Toto several times during 2009, I find the food divine and the service always exceptional.
The added value of dining while experiencing Opera singers is recommended
My husband & I adore this restaurant!We lunch there quite often & rate it as one of our favourites.
The food is excellent with it’s twist of modern on the traditional.
For a number of years the marvelous warmth & service we have received from the Maitre’d Sonia has made Toto a very special place to dine.
Great food let down by inhospital serving staff.We were a table of five and seated first on a recent chilly evening. When I advised our waiter it was cold his response was it would get warm when more people came in!! Some host! We had arrived on a night which was booked out for a function-so a guy selling wine was popping up and speaking to all and sundry-would have been polite to be advised of this-but again doesn’t seem to be part of the ethos of this place.
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