Off Duty: Umu Pizza's Simon Murphy Shares His Top Spots To Eat & Drink
The owner of popular Kingsland pizza joint Umu shares his favourite places to eat and drink around Auckland
Umu pizza owner Simon Murphy is always up for a party, he says. That’s probably why he decided to bust down the left-hand wall of his pumping New North Rd pizza joint and open a cocktail bar called, fittingly, Next Door.
“I had no plans whatsoever to open a bar,” says Simon, “but sometimes in life you can’t turn down a great opportunity.”
The 24-seat bar is a laid-back space with neon lights in the shape of a pizza slice and a cocktail to set the mood between venues. Stocked with spirits, the bar specialises in crafted, complex cocktails, along with craft beers on tap, and a short wine selection. It’s a great spot to nurse a cocktail and wait for the crowd to subside at Umu. Or sneak back over for another round — it’s open as late as 2am.
• Find Next Door at 469 New North Rd, Kingsland
Simon, what’s your cocktail pick at Next Door for summer? You can’t go past a margarita. Our mango and passion fruit is a winner for steamy summer evenings.
Aside from work, what bar can we usually find you at? At the end of the day, sometimes a pint at Grand Central in Ponsonby with a few mates just can’t be beaten, especially if you’re there when the air drummer is there. Classic.
Where do you go for coffee? Right across the road from the shop, a place called Little Q. They know my name, and make me feel welcome every time.
Cheap and cheerful eats in Kingsland? Grab a group of mates and head over to Canton Cafe, tell them Leon and Sam sent you and order the special black chilli prawns (shell off), you won’t regret it.
Who has a great beer list? It’s fun to go hang out at cellar doors — the boys up at Urbanaut are legends and make great beer and the Garage Project cellar has a great line-up. We are lucky to have some great brewers in the area and we always try to support local wherever we can.
What’s your #1 hangover cure? Our Number 9 pizza is a pretty epic morning-after fix, with super-rich fermented sausage, nduja, caramelised onions and lots of cheese.
Any new openings you would recommend? I try to avoid new openings. I know how difficult it is to launch a new spot so I like to give places a month or two before I head down. That being said, I went to Celeste on Karangahape Rd and that is a winner.
Your best party tip? Greet your guests at the door and get them a drink asap! Other than that, music plays a big part in creating a vibe. Read your crowd and have the right tunes playing at the right time.
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