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226 Ponsonby Road,

(09) 376 3095

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byJono Park15/03/2011

Prego is 25 years old this year but like Julie Christie (the actress not the TV matriach), has aged rather well and shows no signs of slowing down. On occasions (though not the night we went) you have to wait for a table. This can be something of a blessing, as you get to sit up the back chatting away to a friend over a glass of wine and watch people, even though you're pretending not to. And there's always a good variety of people on show so it's never boring.

We had a table of 7 who were accommodated immediately. We all went for shared plates of calamari for our starters and as always, these were gorgeous. Can you beat this as a great sharing dish? Me think not. It's even better when you accompany it with a loaf of their hot steaming Pane di Grano Duro which you cut yourselves at the table and dip into olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Perfection. Given that we'd ordered from all over the menu there was a degree of anticipation for the mains. It's at this point though where the perfection started to slip.

This was nothing to do with the service (which was excellent) or the variety - like SPQR, Prego's is not a small select menu but expansive lists that give a lot of choices. My friend and I decided early on to have a 'lamb-off' - I went for the Agnello - Hawke's Bay lamb loin served medium rare on a bed of lentils with agresto sauce. My friend got the lamb special - Agnello alle Spezie Za’atar (spiced Hawkes Bay lamb rump, orzo, three bean salad, minted yoghurt and pomegranate molasses).

I was by far the winner. The lamb loin was beautifully pink, and well matched by the flavour of the lentils. I probably needed some greens but I wasn't caring. The rump on the other hand was strangely tasteless, considering the number of elements making it up - the three bean salad in particular was somewhat irrelevant. Other people at the table had the same mixed results - the saltimbocca and market fish were both enjoyed, but the two duck specials that arrived at the table were both on the small side and one was very dry.

We did the dessert-share thing across the table. I'd had a great tiramisu at Prego a few years back, so went for it again. It seems to have become a little dulled over the years as this one was too creamy with not enough sponge. To my right lay a truly fantastic sticky toffee pudding, which instilled absolute menu envy in me. The small mouthful that I managed to steal (it wasn't easy) was moist, rich and oozing with caramely goodness. Definitely the dessert to pick.

Prego still has it, and the warm familiarity of the place is always welcome. It's definitely not as consistent and the team in the kitchen need to keep an eye on flavours and size, but on the whole it's on the right side of good.

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Prego Restaurant has been reviewed by 26 users

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