Restaurants key icon.
Restaurants key icon.


Tuesday5:00 – 9:00 pm.

Wednesday5:00 – 9:00 pm.

Thursday5:00 – 9:00 pm.

Friday5:00 – 9:00 pm.

Saturday5:00 – 9:00 pm.


1 Tees Street, South Hill, Oamaru

03 434 5696

Thames Street, Ōamaru's main drag, effectively ends at Cucina’s doorstep. To us, this just makes sense, as we can’t think of a better place for foodies to wind up. Here, flavours of Italy, Spain, the Mediterranean and South America are created with local Waitaki ingredients and served with some of the most genuine Kiwi hospitality around.

While Cucina has earned a host of awards since opening in 2016, it remains a ‘come as you are’ kind of spot. Owners Yanina and Pablo, originally from Argentina, wanted to create a restaurant that they would want to eat at and showcase the flavours they grew up with at the same time. It’s a winning combination, and you’ll soon see why.

Enter the historic building, and you’ll first notice the lush greenery that fills every corner of this special restaurant. Yanina is an expert indoor gardener and has created a true environment for visitors to dine in. Her colourful jungle gives a nice preview of what’s to come - plates that are similarly bright, fresh and carefully created.

Wander down the hallway, and you might get a glimpse of the dry-aged meat cabinet or the ‘pasta room’ where the team handcrafts all of the pasta that graces the menu. Pablo, Cucina’s head chef, is constantly changing the menu to reflect what’s in season, so there’s always something new to try at Cucina.

Fresh pasta dishes here are anything but run of the mill and have featured combinations such as beetroot Gemelli with charred beetroot, chunky spinach kale pesto, chilli, garlic, torn mozzarella, fresh herbs, parmesan and toasted hazelnuts. The deep purple noodles, colourful local vegetables and buffalo mozzarella ate perfectly together. Like every dish Pablo creates, it featured a balance of salty, sweet, acidic and umami flavours.

Cucina’s 55-day aged rib eye is a local favourite and the product of Waitaki’s excellent sheep and beef rearing landscape. Pablo uses a charcoal grill and seasonal vegetables like kumara, asparagus, smoked sofrito and black garlic potatoes to highlight the rich, meaty flavours. On the ‘Mains’ list, you’ll also find dishes like local Havoc Pork filet served with Ōamaru wilted greens, roasted fennel, smoked sour cream, carrot puree, smoked paprika oil, pickled carrots and pork crackling powder. Again, every plate offers balance and beautiful plating - a total celebration of local fare. Cucina’s ‘Trust the Chef’ menu with wine pairing options makes it easy to try it all.

In addition to building a well-loved menu, Yanina and Pablo have also raised their young family alongside the business and assembled a Cucina team and whānau that make everyone feel welcome. They know many of their customers and are some of Ōamaru's most authentic ambassadors.

If you love Cucina, and it’s hard not to, be sure to also visit Pablo and Yanina’s other restaurants. Tees Street Café is located just around the corner for brunch, and Del Mar, down by the water, is a great family dinner spot.

Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Nancy Zhou

Information not correct? Report an error


1 Tees Street, South Hill, Oamaru

Nearby Places

The Terraces

Old artifacts on a dresser and land yacht at The Terraces with table in foreground in Ōamaru.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki Editor's Pick
Galleries and museum key icon.

Local Kevin Murdoch restored The Terraces building and filled it with historical relics and an art studio. Pop in for a chat with Kevin and the other Ōamaru artist in residence, Al Bell - this is something of an alternative visitors’ centre.

William Bee

Display of clothes on racks at William Bee in Ōamaru.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki
Fashion key icon.

A general store since the 1800s, this cosy Ōamaru corner shop is now home to hip baby wear, cool gifts and New Zealand outerwear brand, Moké. Lush fabrics and excellent craftsmanship tie the whole concept together.

Oásis Ōamaru

A dragon painting on a wall at Oasis Oamaru.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki

Oásis is a fitting name for this treasure trove of an antiques store found on Tees Street in Ōamaru.

Hyde Boutique

A woman wearing a pink and yellow vest sorting through a clothes rack inside Hyde Boutique Oamaru.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki
Fashion key icon.

Retail therapy doesn’t get any better in Ōamaru than Hyde Boutique, a high-end designer fashion destination situated on the town’s busy Thames Street.

Similar Places

The Fort Enfield

Local patron raising a drink at The Fort Enfield in Waitaki.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki
Bars key icon.

A classic Kiwi pub reimagined — Speights and craft pours plus simple and delicious kai — pub fare as it should be. Drive or bike the 12km from Ōamaru and reward yourself with the best steak and chips around.

The Criterion Hotel

Exterior view of The Criterion Hotel in Ōamaru.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki
Bars key icon.

First established in 1877, the Criterion Hotel Bar and Eatery is the jewel in the crown in the historic Victorian precinct in Ōamaru.

Riverstone Kitchen

A white plate with potato salad, salmon and a green salad on the side.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki Editor's Pick
Restaurants key icon.

Riverstone Kitchen has been working with Waitaki producers and growing their own ingredients since day one. Their simple, seasonal approach has earned a huge following and heaps of awards, so wander the veggie gardens, enjoy a meal and stay awhile.

Victoria Lounge and Eatery

Plush blue seating set against a dark green wall filled with portraits of queens
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki
Bars key icon.

Victoria Lounge and Eatery in the heart of Ōamaru is a welcome addition to the burgeoning hospitality scene in this small town brimming with charm and character.