Heartland Italian cooking from a much-loved South Island group of restaurants.
Francesca Voza was brought up in a family that was involved in
hospitality in the north of England and Italy, and started helping
out in restaurant kitchens from the age of six. By the time she was
in her teens she knew this was what she wanted to do. Another
passion - for travel - brought her and her husband to Wanaka, where
they quickly decided they wanted to settle. Selling wood-fired
pizzas from a trailer at the markets gained her a local following,
and this later led to the opening of Francesca's Italian
James Stapley was the executive chef at the high-end Whare Kea lodge in Wanaka when he met Francesca. Their shared love of Italian food and visions of the menu they would want to offer at a restaurant led to a successful business partnership. Their menus use the Italian ethos of concentrating on ingredients that are fresh, delicious and in close proximity to the restaurant.