A Romanian Dream Fulfilled

Written by: Matthias McGregor on 22nd Aug 2016

It’s a rare sight to see a restauranteur agreeing with a less than stellar online review from a customer, but Sabina & Sergio Antoniu are no regular owners. The Romanian couple worked as broadcast journalists before buying Jagz and consider turning the restaurant around to be the biggest challenge of their lives.

“When we bought the restaurant we had to agree with the customer that we were average, but we don’t like anything to be average in our lives.” said Sabrina.

The couple first started visiting New Zealand 15 years ago and long dreamed of running a restaurant here.

“We’re not Kiwis and we’d never worked in hospitality before owning the restaurant, but this really is our dream. Since we took over Jagz we wanted to give the menu our own Romanian touch. We find our market is quite conservative in the area so it’s a case of slowly making changes and adapting it and finding dishes that work.”

Polenta for breakfast

“We’ve introduced a Romanian breakfast as a point of difference that is unique in Christchurch, and our own home-made Romanian cakes are proving very popular.”

Jagz Traditional Romanian Breakfast features free range fried eggs served on a polenta cake baked in the oven.

“Polenta is very Romanian, it's a very traditional and common ingredient for us, often replacing bread. We make it ourselves in the kitchen and people say it’s very different to normal polenta dishes that they’ve tried. Romanian polenta is very coarse and rough so people find the texture very odd to begin with. Ever since we put it on the menu we have had so much interesting feedback."

Adventurous diners

Salmon Gravalax from Jagz evening menu

“Alot of the time in New Zealand if people see something they don’t know then they don’t try it, but once they do they do they are very happy. Our challenge at Jagz is to target adventurous and open minded people who want to try new things."

Jagz operates as a casual cafe during the day and is the perfect place to stop for a coffee and sample an exotic Romanian cake. In the evening a mature dinner service features fine cuts including sirloin, pork belly, and salmon gravalax.

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