Nolita

Nolita - granola header image

203 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens: 9am; closes late
Granola $13; L’affare coffee, Libertine teas

Nolita claims to be NZ’s first plant-based pizza and pasteria. They use vegan cheese they make themselves and sourghdough for the pizza bases. Breakfast includes vegan equivalents of usual favourites, including scrambled tofu, a ‘big breakfast’ with vegan sausage, and sourdough pancakes. Pizzas are available from noon as well as pastas in the evening.

Nolita - granola and coffee

The granola is listed on the menu as ‘chia seed buckwheat-nut granola with coconut yoghurt, seasonal fruit and toasted coconut’. Yes, there was apple and feijoa (right in season at the moment) and lots of coconut yoghurt with chia seeds in it. I don’t know what buckwheat-nut is, but maybe the hyphen is unintended. Strange that there was no mention of the cacao or carob or whatever it was that made the granola a dark brown. It didn’t seem to lend any distinctive taste but it was so dark I couldn’t really see what was in the granola. The toasted coconut did seem to be absent though.

There was one big walnut half, and I spied some slivered almonds and pumpkin and sesame seeds, but beyond that I think it was mostly buckwheat. The granola seemed toasted, making the buckwheat grains (i.e. seeds) very hard and crunchy. If you are in that middle aged stage of life where your teeth are falling apart I’d definitely avoid this. Even though what’s left of my natural teeth are now mostly protected with crowns I was still pretty apprehensive crunching my way through this bowl.

There was some sort of sticky binder holding the granola in lumps, but overall there wasn’t a lot of sugar in it. A light honey coating was applied to the yoghurt though. The best thing about the dish was the volume of this yoghurt. Coconut yoghurt is expensive stuff and usually you just get a spoonful at cafés, but here it comprised as much bulk as the granola. No milk was provided but there was so much yoghurt I didn’t really need any to wet the granola.

Nolita interior - view to front

The Americano coffee was great. It was a generous serve, came hot, and was in a very nice matt-glazed cup that just felt so much more sophisticated than your usual.

There were very few patrons on the Saturday morning I was there from 9am to around 9.45. I guess the pizza and pasta specialisation make it more of a lunch and dinner place. There were no newspapers or even magazines, reinforcing the idea that breakfast and even brunch is not something Nolita is targeting.

Nolita interior - entrance seats

The environment is pleasant enough, with some soft benches and padded seats at tables, varnished wooden floor, and exposed brick walls between strengthening steel beams. On the other hand, there are a lot of stools and high tables, suggesting the owners are thinking of casual diners on high rotate in a noisy, packed out venue, rather than those who like to linger in a comfortable setting. I can’t help thinking of Joe’s Garage, which has all the same design elements while being slightly less sophisticated.

Nolita - exterior with street seating

Outside there is a large seating booth plonked in an area where you would normally be parking cars. I don’t know how permanent this is.

Nolita interior - exterior
Conclusion

A very crunchy, teeth-destroying granola based on toasted buckwheat. Comes with heaps of delicious coconut yoghurt. Excellent coffee. Nine o’clock opening rather precludes it as a breakfast venue, certainly on weekdays, but that’s not where its emphasis is. I applaud its venture into vegan pizzas and I’ll be interested to see how that goes.

Reviewed April 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.

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