I’ve eaten some pretty spectacular seafood on this leg of my odd odyssey but I’d been assured that no trip to Wellington was complete without a visit to Ortega. That was from one of their employees, a pal of mine late of The Bon Vivant, though, so I headed to the much celebrated fish shack to make up my own mind.

I found their compact dining room alive with a considerable mid-evening buzz. This extended to the rear dining space and bar area where I was promptly seated.

Their a la carte was fairly lengthy, as was their wine list, so I settled in over a glass of manzanilla to get some reading done.

I soon settled on oysters to start, prawn tail rigatoni to follow, then John Dory for my main course. I matched the oysters with an excellent local fizz called Maude, then fine chardonnay with the prawns and crisp riesling with the main.

First up were three natural oysters and three battered. The white soy ponzu with the beautifully fresh natural oysters was next level with a limitless well of umami flavour. The battered oysters were excellent, too, served with a high quality tartare sauce.

Next we had a simple dish of prawn tails with rigatoni in a lemon garlic butter sauce. Again, this was excellent cooking with the prawns absolutely superb and the pasta delicious. There was much joyful mopping up of the sauce required.

The main course maintained the excellent standard with a well-cooked piece of white fish served with fregola pasta, nduja broth, with cockles and mussels…alive, alive, oh!

It was absolutely fantastic stuff with spot-on cooking of the various elements. I’d added shoestring fries for the sake of gluttony and enjoyed every last one of them.

Ortega is just such a great restaurant. It matches a kind of swaggering charm with really top notch cooking. Wellington is very well served for seafood eateries and Ortega is right at the top of the tree. It’s a must-visit when next you’re in Wellington.

Blythe scores Ortega
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4.5/5 setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 17/20

I ate: oysters, fresh and battered; prawn tails with rigatoni; John Dory with nduja; shoestring fries

I drank: manzanilla, Maude sparkling, Prophet’s Rock riesling, Neudorf “Rosie’s Block” chardonnay, water

I wore: the trousers of an Italian fireman

Total bill: $158.40

Address: 16 Marjoribanks Road, Wellington, 6011

Written by BKR