It’s lunchtime on Auckland’s edgy – but slowly gentrifying – Karangahape Road. Once famed for its strip joints and nightclubs, the area is now home to a handful of the city’s top restaurants.
Among them is popular eatery Cotto.
The restaurant doesn’t open until 5pm, but this morning the kitchen staff has been here since 8.30am, rolling out four kilos of fresh pasta dough, baking focaccia and making eight kilos of gnocchi from scratch to the beat of electronic music.
“Our philosophy is that everything we prepare we serve today,” chef Hayden Phiskie says. He is feeding wide strips of dough into a hand-cranked bench-top pasta machine, passing it through time after time until it’s ribbon-thin.
Lengths of rust-orange pasta hang on a wooden rail above the kitchen bench. Their smooth saffron folds are reminiscent of a Buddhist monk’s robes drying in the sun – the color comes from smoked paprika mixed into the dough.
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After drying for half an hour, the pasta will be roughly chopped into random shapes, to become part of one of Cotto’s signature dishes – maltagliati (“badly cut”) with lamb shanks and gremolata (a chopped herb condiment).