Antonio Crisci’s life long passion for flavours begun with his grandmother teaching him the secrets of Italian cuisine, in his mum’s kitchen- Napoli, Southern Italy. His love of food drove him to open his first restaurant in his hometown at the tender age of 19.
With dreams of sailing around the world, Antonio left Italy with his travels eventually leading him to arrive by yacht to Paihia, NZ in 1991. He made his way to Auckland working in a few restaurants and was surprised by how few European products were accessible in NZ’s largest city. Still keen to see more of the world he travelled to Australia, Indonesia and back to Europe then decided to make NZ his home in 1993. Within a few months he begun to introduce his favourite Italian flavours through his vision of what an Italian restaurant should be, ‘Toto’ in Nelson St, Auckland. The flagship restaurant was welcomed with great enthusiasm in the somewhat barren dining scene of the era and quickly attracted Auckland’s movers & shakers. It is also where he met the then Maitre’D of ‘Toto’ Vivienne Farnell. They have two daughters, Bella & Marilena now aged 14 & 12.
Antonio’s influence in the Auckland scene is dotted around the inner city with Il Forno cafe in Ponsonby and what has become a Parnell institution, Non Solo Pizza, established in 1996 with Vivienne. It is still going strong after 19years. Antonio’s contribution to the industry was recognised in 2009 when he was voted ‘Outstanding Hospitality Personality of the Year’ at the prestigious Lewisham Awards. His presence is in demand at food and wine festivals such as Taste of Auckland, The Waiheke Vintage Festival and Festival Italiano.
Poderi Crisci is a culmination of his vision as a restaurateur, his Italian heritage and his commitment to living the New Zealand dream. On entry to Poderi Crisci you are immediately graced with old world style, charm and the bountiful gardens give you a sense of being in a self sufficient safe haven.
Antonio believes Waiheke is the ultimate destination for food lovers and that the vineyard fulfils the dreams of a lot of chefs. That is, to have a garden full of fresh produce to choose from daily and being able to create the menu of the day based on the freshest of ingredients.
Antonio loves being an owner/operator of his restaurants and he gives constant attention to detail and to continually uphold standards of food and wine service. He loves that he has the possibility to “entirely express my vision of food being an integral part of life”.