Vesuvio, which forged its reputation as a cosmopolitan Boulevard Café by day and a Jazz Bar by night, is back – but not quite as you may recall it. Matt Lingens has employed his creative and entrepreneurial flair to fine effect in bringing Vesuvio back to post-earthquake Christchurch.
Its new, 21st century incarnation has, if anything, concentrated the spirit of the original into a small, urban courtyard bar in what may be the last such environment still standing after the earthquakes – a sunny, brick-paved courtyard in the Carlton Courts complex opposite the new Carlton Hotel on Papanui Rd on the corner of Bealey Ave. Vesuvio is tucked into a heritage building to the side of the courtyard, enjoying glorious late afternoon sun in its own, planted seating area to the front of it, and offering ample parking out back that is accessible from either Bealey Ave or Derby Street.
Yes, Vesuvio is back; it is a Jazz and Tapas Bar similar to those found in the now famed alleyways of Melbourne or, for that matter, any other cosmopolitan city of the world. Every aspect of Vesuvio has been handcrafted from local materials. The floor tiles are from Middle Earth Tiles, the only tile-maker in Australasia; the Carrera marble leaner was made from the stairway steps in the former Press building in the Square; the bar, ceiling and furniture were handcrafted by local artisan tradesmen; and the wall treatment was created by George Chimirri, perhaps the only Christchurch designer with intimate knowledge of such traditional European finishing methods.
Similarly, the tapas menu is based on local and imported artisan food ingredients and the wine list constitutes what is possibly the best selection of affordable wines by the glass anywhere in the wider neighbourhood. It features stunning examples of NZ boutique wines matched with a carefully selected range of European and other international wines.
Music is offered with equal passion and care: a high-end Italian sound system delivers rare jazz and world music for listening pleasure rather than background noise. Matt Lingens opened the original Vesuvio on Oxford Tce in 1992. It became an integral part of the urban living and working culture of Christchurch and it was the precursor to the development of other bars, cafes and restaurants along Oxford Tce in what later became known as The Strip. That culture was lost to the city in the seismic devastation of 2011 but Matt is intent on reinstating it. He brought Tregatti’s into the world in the early ‘80s, the original Vesuvio, the Wunderbar, and has had a hand in creating a number of other well-known establishments. Now, with the exciting re-emergence of Vesuvio, the social pulse of the inner city beats ever stronger. Vesuvio is open Mon-Sat 4pm till late.