In Thorndon

Rosa-The Great Little Pasta Shop, 306 Tinakori Rd. (® 04/499-0221), sells fresh takeaway pastas, Pandoro breads, and Kapiti cheeses. It's open Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 7pm and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. Another good addition is L'Italiano Café & Cucina, 324 Tinakori Rd. (® 04/472-5251), where excellent pastas go for around NZ$16 (US$8.80); it's open Tuesday through Saturday. For a laid-back spot to put a smile on your face, head for Backbencher Pub & Café, 34 Molesworth St. (opposite Parliament; ® 04/472-3065), where you'll find a great pub atmosphere that lightheartedly mocks the local parliamentarians. It's best summed up as cheap and cheerful.

Francois FRENCH COUNTRY Francois came on the scene about 3 years ago and it has never looked back. It's tucked into an old building, where the French owner and his French chef turn out signature dishes like duck confit, pickled ox tongue, and Provençal-style seafood casseroles. The interior is smart and simple. Recommendations come thick and fast for this place, so even if you're not staying in the area, give it a try.

10a Murphy St.,Thorndon. ® 04/499-5252. Reservations required. Main courses NZ$25-$35 (US$14—$19). AE, DC, MC, V. Mon-Sat from 6pm.

Maria Pia's ITALIAN COUNTRY Located just around the corner from Francois, this gorgeous little trattoria was another instant success from the minute it opened its doors. Also sited in an old building, it has a warm, low-key interior that doesn't distract you in any way from the divine fresh pasta that is made, by hand, by Italian-born Maria every day.

55-57 Mulgrave St., Thorndon. ® 04/499-5590. Reservations required. Main courses NZ$22-$32 (US$12—$18). AE, MC, V. Lunch Tues-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner Tues-Sat 5:30-11:30pm.

Tinakori Bistro $ MODERN NEW ZEALAND This cute restaurant, right in the heart of Tinakori Village, is a delightful place for an evening meal. There's a nice little courtyard at the rear for a small group of diners. You probably won't have a wild time here—the mood is generally pretty restrained—but the food is good. Chargrilled cervena with aubergine parmigiana, risotto cake and port sauce, or roasted herb-infused lamb loin are typical offerings.

328 Tinakori Rd. ® 04/499-0567. Reservations recommended. Main courses NZ$24—$30 ($10—$13). AE, DC, MC, V. Mon—Fri noon—2pm; daily 6—10:30pm.

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