Nestled in-between a hairdresser and a backpacker, Arbour Woodfire Pizza in Lyttelton is striking from the curb.
The building has been custom-built as the owners' original pop-up pizza joint was in need of an upgrade. The exterior is awash with cypress and an elaborate gate. Designed to look somewhat mysterious, it invites closer inspection.
Step inside and there’s no mistake you’re “in port”. An old Lyttelton fishing boat – adorned with cast iron mermaid – has been reclaimed and repurposed as a centrepiece bar. This charming seafaring vessel makes the space feel homely and familiar. The rest of the interior is thoughtful and modern; the clear roof offers tons of natural light, there’re more indoor plants than your average Oderings and an enviable industrial lighting arrangement.
Arbour Woodfire Pizza - run by Megan and her brother-in-law, Mario - has kept the menu simple. Pizzas are the headline act with a setlist of favourites. Rata - a classic take on the Margherita - will not disappoint. Look out for a couple of more obscure numbers too, Horopito being an instant hit, with roasted lamb on a confit garlic base. Expect a perfectly charred full moon of deliciousness with masses of flavour courtesy of their homemade tomato sauce, and hand-stretched Wairiri buffalo mozzarella. There’s plenty to please vegetarians and vegans with a section of the menu dedicated to plant-based options.
To wash all this nourishment down, you can order a pint of Cassels. Here they reign supreme, with a hearty selection of beers and cider from the local brewery. And for the wine lovers, you can sip on award-winning Waipara wine from Forager, or perhaps a tipple from Whistling Buoy, the local vineyard, just a stone’s throw away in Charteris Bay. Little Biddy Gin from Reefton or locally made Peninsula Gin is a must for any G&T fans - brimming with aromatic flavour and topped off with berries and edible petals.
What sets Arbour Woodfire Pizza apart is its unequivocal focus on local growers and suppliers. For Megan and Mario, it is all about the stories they can share with their customers. Megan explains she can happily point to the hills above Corsair Bay where their beef cows graze or regale that their lemons are carefully delivered by hand from Little River (by the grower himself). The logs for the woodfire oven? Well, they come directly from the arborist business owned by Megan’s husband, Ra. This approach, coupled with a seasonal focus, revolving specials board, and humming local community, means Arbour can showcase the best produce at their fingertips. They even raise their own pigs and cure meat (fed on food scraps from the restaurant no less!)
We can thank Arbour for teaching us a thing or two about how to earn a crust, the best part is, it’s the kind you’ll want to eat.