571 Dominion Road
(09) 638 8032
Thursday - Tuesday
11.30am - late
I’m not sure if I came to know about Barilla because someone told me about it, or because the knowledge simply seeped into my brain from Auckland’s collective consciousness. Regardless of how it happened, the pressure of many voices telling me to go combined with a virtual stumble upon a post on great Auckland restaurant blog Eat Here Now, meant that I was finally compelled to head to Dominion Road to try it for myself.
Barilla has a bright green awning, but it’s still quite difficult to spot amongst the jumble and crush that is the Balmoral shops. The windows are steamy so you can’t see in, and when you do walk through the doors you’ll find bright lights that turn everyone inside an incredibly flattering shade of jaundice. Everything in this place seems to be made of plastic; the chairs, the tablecloths, the plates and bowls and cups (that are filled with green tea), the chopsticks and the files that hold the menu. It doesn’t necessarily encourage a lengthy, lazy dining experience, but that’s not what a trip to Barilla is about. You’re there to eat, and if you don’t leave feeling uncomfortably full than you should go back in and order more. This is a place to sacrifice your strength of will on the altar of gluttony.
Let me tell you how it happened to me.
First, we ordered the fried green beans. An oval plate appeared before us, piled high. These darling beans were lightly fried in batter and whole cumin seeds and I never want to eat beans any other way ever ever ever again. Henceforth I think my go-to savoury snack will be beans. They were so addictive that we found ourselves attacking small bits of tempura batter and cumin seeds with our chopsticks (to no avail); so instead we doused our dumplings in soy sauce and then rolled them in said crumbs.
We ordered twenty lamb and celery dumplings, steamed. They came (steaming) in a big bamboo basket. They were fresh and soft and filled with flavour and juiciness. Those twenty dumplings disappeared within seven minutes of their arrival at the table (there were five of us…). We also ordered twenty pork and green pepper dumplings, fried. They came on a plate, crispy and golden on one side, boiling in the middle. They were stickier and trickier to eat. They burned our mouths but we continued to shovel them in regardless, such was their goodness.
We left in a post-gluttonous daze, discussing whether it would be nutritionally feasible to only eat at Barilla from that moment on. Considering our whole giant meal cost just $43 between five, it definitely makes good sense from my bank account’s perspective…