Nestled in the heart of Russell, right on the waterfront, The Gables Osteria & Enoteca is an historic gem, seamlessly weaving old world elegance with approachable Italian Food & Wine.
Stepping into The Historic Places listed building (Built 1847) is like stepping back in time. With Kauri paneling, open fires and original maps, prints and early photographs The Gables retains all of it’s old world charm. The beams are crooked, the floor slopes, but the building survives.
Refurbished in 2023 the restaurant now serves fresh housemade pasta and approachable Italian alongside Northland and Italian wines, craft beer and European influenced cocktails. Drawing inspiration from the outstanding produce of the Far North the seasonal menu showcases fresh, locally caught seafood and produce from small scale, local, organic farmers.
Joseph England, an immigrant shoemaker built The Gables in 1847. He had purchased the land for 30 pounds from Moko, a Maori chief several years earlier. He used whalebone for the foundation piles (you can see one of them in the Osteria) and pit-sawn kauri throughout the building. He offered his house for sale in 1849 for 60 pounds and Henry Hicton, his wife Elizabeth and two daughters from Bolton, England, took up residence.
The secret room on the first floor belongs to a later and less respectable owner. It was apparently used for hiding sailors who had jumped ship – sailors who no doubt had taken advantage of The Gables’ reputation as a “provider for the needs of whalers.” That’s right, The Gables was very likely New Zealand’s first brothel.
In the 1860’s The Gables was a shop and bakehouse; later a Salvation Army Boys Home, until it reverted again to providing for the needs (albeit different needs) of travellers.
In 1980 it was purchased by Robert and Jenny Loosley, the longest owners in its history. Since then The Gables has continued to build a reputation with foreigners and New Zealander’s enjoying delicious food and friendly service in one of the countries top summer destinations.
The restaurant remains in the family, operated by their son Nick Loosley since 2009. Nick leads a strong team of local and International hospitality professionals who love serving the eclectic mix of guests from the far North and around the world.