Sasso's general manager Candice Chow and executive chef Sal Grant at the restaurant during construction last week. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
A taste of Italy is about to arrive in Queenstown when
Italian bistro Sasso opens its doors after a $500,000 revamp.
It was previously the resort's live music hangout and craft
beer bar Dux de Lux but the new Queenstown owners, David
Matthews and Mark Rose, have taken a different direction with
the historic McNeill's Cottage.
The businessmen felt Queenstown was missing a chic modern
Italian dining option.
In order to make the experience more authentic they have
imported tiles from Italy and furniture from Italy and Spain.
Food and wine will also be imported from Italy and used in
conjunction with local wine and produce.
Also a UK property developer, Mr Matthews said he was aiming
at both the local and tourist market.
"We want it to be open to everyone."
He has bought in Waiheke Island's Poderi Crisci Tuscan-style
restaurant chef Sal Grant to head the kitchen and Candice
Chow, previously of the Rees Hotel Queenstown, to manage the
Having worked alongside prominent hospitality figure Antonia
Crisci, Mr Grant is inspired by a classic yet modern approach
to Italian food.
He will lead a team of eight chefs in the kitchen and wants
to offer Queenstown quality food that is "simple and tasty".
This would be achieved through using 65% imported Italian
produce and 35% local, he said.
"It will be clean on the plate and presentable, but then
again it will feed the families."
He likened the restaurant's appeal to that of popular
celebrity hangout SPQR in Ponsonby Rd, Auckland.
"It will be a point of difference. Everyone here is doing a
similar style of food.
There will be elements on this menu that no-one has
seen.""It's real honest food, executed well and presented
well. There's a lot of love there."
He backed the Timpano pasta, to become an overnight
"It's an elaborate, labour-intensive baked pasta dish that
contains mozzarella, aromatic vegetables, meatballs, salami
and other sumptuous morsels. Bellissimo."