Starting his career in hospitality as a pizza maker, Andrea Marseglia didn’t really enjoy being behind the oven covered in flour. Going out to bars and clubs, he saw the bartenders had girls lining up for drinks – so he decided to give that a go. “I fell in love with the service side and the fact that each customer had a different personality,” he says. Since then, he has earned a series of accolades for his bartending skills, including a national award in Australia. At Boilermaker House in Melbourne, the team picked up ‘best bar’, ‘best whiskey bar’, ‘best beer bar’ and ‘best bar team’. Then Loch & Key, also in Melbourne, was nominated two years in a row for Best Bartender Bar by Australian Bartender magazine. “When I first got into bartending, I didn’t believe in myself much,” says Andrea. “Winning these awards gave me a really big push. It gave me confidence.”

In Auckland, with the full support of Madame George owner Pablo Arrasco Paz, Andrea made his mark. “He gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. We pushed a lot with drinks and concepts, and it got me on the radar in New Zealand.” Pablo is equal in his praise: “Andrea is super talented and motivated. One thing I respect in people is making the most of possibilities. A night out is about how it makes you feel; it’s about the experience. Andrea understood and embraced that. He was instrumental in that.”

Originally from Sperlonga, a small town between Rome and Naples, Andrea first ventured to Milan before a stint in London. When he reached Melbourne, he stayed long enough to meet and fall in love with Sarah Mitchell and they’ve been making hospitality moves together ever since.

When the couple came to New Zealand, they helped open The Good Luck Coconut in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter. But, after Covid-19 hit, they decided on a fresh start in Hawke’s Bay to take up an opportunity at Bistronomy. Now they are making their dream of opening their own place a reality.

It was Andrea’s grandmother Teresa who gave him a passion for foraging and shared her knowledge of plants. His mother worked long hours on a boat rental for months at a time, and his father was the chief of police, so Teresa looked after her grandson a great deal. She opened his eyes to the infinite possibilities of plants and taught him to be aware of what was around him. “She would gather wild herbs and use them to cook for close friends and family, and talk about the process over the dinner table; it was our way of being together.”

In her honour, Andrea has named this new venture the Teresa Cocktail Bar. In reality, it’s two venues in one. The ‘secret’ aperitif and cocktail bar will be tucked in behind an Italian-style deli at the Emerson Street address in Napier. “We want to showcase to Hawke’s Bay that there’s something other than cafés,” he says. “We’ll also have an off-licence so customers can choose some natural wines to take home.”

In Latin, Teresa means ‘harvest’ and Harvest Deli will be a place to grab a coffee, a just-baked loaf, a sandwich or a made-to- order salad. Customers can also pick up the ingredients of a grazing platter – charcuterie or cheese – and explore local produce. “We are trying to create a beautiful relationship with the growers, harvesters and producers, to cut some of the transport cost and carbon emissions and make the offering as sustainable as possible,” says Andrea.

Conor Mertens, the food director for both ventures, is ex-Orphans Kitchen in Auckland and was also the creative force behind the pop-up dinner-party restaurant Chimera. The small menu he has developed will change weekly, driven by what is fresh and available. Sustainable ingredients are key – think small plates of fish crudo or beef tartare with foraged pickled vegetables.

In 2019, Conor featured as One to Watch in Cuisine, so the combination of skills within this innovative team has us looking forward to what Teresa Cocktail Bar and Harvest Deli will bring to the Hawke’s Bay food scene. If only Andrea’s grandmother could see what her penchant for gathering wild food has inspired: she’s in her 90s now and every time Andrea calls to tell her of his plans, she gets tearful.

With an opening date set for October, the couple is busy preparing. “We got lucky that the developer loved the project and guaranteed the finance. But we are ready for this. It’s our first place and we have put a lot of effort in.”