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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Quick Bites
Buca di Beppo coming to Honolulu

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Yet another high-concept restaurant chain that has received good marks elsewhere is entering the Honolulu market: Buca di Beppo, (BOO-ka dee BEH-po) which calls itself a family-style Italian "immigrant" restaurant. Buca means "basement" and is a reference to the founding family's first eatery, a couple of generations ago in the basement of a Cleveland apartment building in that city's Little Italy district. This one's not in a basement, however; it will be at the Ward Entertainment Center on Auahi Street, and will open Jan. 11.

The chain, headquartered in Minneapolis, now runs 68 restaurants in 22 states and the District of Columbia, all serving generous family-style platters of traditional southern Italian favorites — the spaghetti, ravioli, chicken cacciatoria family of marinara-sauced dishes that most Americans think of when they think of Italian food (as opposed to the less-familiar polentas, stews and such of northern Italy).

The price range is from $9 to $23 with most entrees designed to serve two to four people. A new, smaller-dish menu is being introduced. A peek at the menu showed just what you'd expect: bruschetta and calimari among the antipasti; green and tomato salads; pizza, pasta (spaghetti, linguini, rigatoni, tortelloni), the usual parmigianas, marsalas and limones and, at dessert, tiramisu, spumoni ice cream — and yes, "Godfather" fans, they're bringing the cannoli.

New Year' events pop up all around

Lots of New Year's Eve buffets and special menus are being announced. Check with your favorite restaurant to see what it's planning. Some options:

  • Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawaii has events in each dining area — a special $95 dinner menu at Hoku's; $25 entertainment and pupu at The Veranda, an early-evening $70 buffet at the Plumeria Beach Cafe followed by a $175 dinner and Latin-themed dance party (with instructors). Children's prices available. 739-8888.
  • The Parc Cafe at the Waikiki Parc Hotel plans a special brunch buffet New Year's Day ($27.95) and dinner buffets New Year's Eve and New Year's Day ($19.95). Buffets include salad, carving, saute and chafing-dish stations, as well as a dessert table. Children's prices available. 931-6643.
  • The Plantation Cafe at the Ala Moana Hotel will serve New Year's Eve and New Year's Day dinner buffets ($29) with hot and cold selections, a carving board and desserts and a New Year's Day brunch ($27.50). Rumours Nightclub plans a "United We Stand" party with cocktails and pupu on New Year's Eve (prices vary depending on VIP card status, time of arrival). 955-4811.
  • Don Ho's Island Grill plans a gala dinner menu created by chef Mariano Lalica featuring lu'au-style foods as well as steaks, Hawaiian-style cioppino and lamb osso buco with a "surfboard selection" of dderts; cost is $50 adults, $10 children. 528-0807.
  • Sensei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar plans a $35 dinner buffet New Year's Eve featuring sushi, dim sum, poke, frying, carving and saute stations plus desserts. 536-6286.

TGI Friday's updates its menu

TGI Friday's restaurants are unveiling a new menu which they describe as "streamlined" — down to 80 items from 100 — and more contemporary, with four new appetizers (bruschetta, spinach dip, crab rolls and smoked-chicken quesadillas); eight new entrees, including several steaks, a tempura orange chicken, a couple of shrimp dishes and a chicken and angel-hair pasta preparation; and a new dessert, vanilla bean cheesecake. The chain researched people's preferences and refocused the lunch menu on quickly prepared items because customers are too busy to linger. They also 86ed the red-and-white striped uniforms in flavor of sleeker black outfits because customers found the old outfits dated. The menu is still eclectic, but a bit lighter, with more grilled than deep-fried dishes. The menu has been implemented in much of the country and the Honolulu TGI Friday's expects to follow suit in January.

New Maui event likely to continue

A new culinary event on Maui looks to be one that will become a tradition: The 2001 Taste of Morrad earlier this month drew 700 guests to the Maui Ocean Center in Ma'alea to graze through presentations by more than 50 chefs. Eight chefs received awards of $1,000 each and were allowed to select a charity to receive a $750 contribution from Morrad, one of Hawai'i's largest food-service industry suppliers, and co-sponsor CityBank.

Winning chefs included: Royden Sato of Four Season Resort Maui, Wailea; Ralph A. Giles of An Absolute Affair catering; Glyn McMillan of Tommy Bahama's new restaurant in The Shops at Wailea; James McDonald of The Feast at Lele, Lahaina; Marilyn Mina of Sea Horse Restaurant at Napili Kai Resort; Arthur Guthmiller of Manana Garage, Kahului; Marz Hoyt of the Haggai Institute conference center; and Teresa Gannon Shurilla of Hali'imaile General Store.

Send items of culinary interest to Taste, Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Fax: 525-8055. E-mail: taste@honoluluadvertiser.com.