Frank Camorra will be crossing the Tasman frequently this winter as he gets ready to open MoVida in Auckland, his first overseas location of the restaurant that kickstarted Melbourne’s Spanish love affair in 2003.
The venue will sit on level 2 of the Seafarers Building in Auckland’s Britomart area, which Camorra describes as on the cusp of CBD and harbour, and will offer incredible views of the water.
Seafood will feature prominently. Camorra is particularly enthused at the prospect of easy access to New Zealand crayfish, abalone and octopus. Seafood paellas will be cooked over fire, something the Melbourne restaurants have not been able to do. The Auckland kitchen boasts large wood-fired set-up.
MoVida ran a month-long pop-up in Auckland in 2016 and has been in talks about opening a New Zealand venue ever since, Camorra says. Now it’s happening, in partnership with Savor Group, which runs 14 venues in the city. The chef has also taken MoVida to Lorne and Sydney.
Camorra’s excitement is palpable when he talks of an upcoming visit to scope out producers and test the kitchen. “That whole creative process of opening a new restaurant and the menu development is the most important part [of being a chef],” says Camorra.
Wild venison and hare may also feature on the menu, which will be all-new for Auckland, aside from three or four MoVida signatures such as anchovy with smoked tomato sorbet and Pedro Ximenez beef cheek.
The space will also have a distinct identity, with a large bar and open kitchen the only similarity to MoVida’s Melbourne venues.
Camorra and his team will start testing dishes in late July while the dining room is completed. He hopes to have doors open by end of August.