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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 16, 2003

Longhi's brings trademark to Honolulu

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

 •  Longhi's

Opens today at Ala Moana Center on the fourth floor

Hours are 5-10 p.m. daily. Eventually, the restaurant will open for breakfast and lunch.

Reservations; 947-9899

Outside the Waikiki hotel strip, O'ahu has a surprising dearth of restaurants that offer all these in combination: affordability, well-prepared food, an ocean view, lots of free parking and a breakfast-to-dinner menu.

Enter Longhi's, which opens today. The 27-year-old Lahaina, Maui, institution and its plain-speaking, colorful owner, Bob Longhi, are coming to Ala Moana Center.

The restaurant's fourth-floor, makai-side location has a killer 180-degree view, an average check price of $45, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef in Carol Longhi O'Leary and — for those proponents of early meetings — will begin serving breakfast and lunch within the next few weeks. For now, they're open 5 to 10 p.m. daily; in the future, hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

In contrast to its third-floor neighbor Morton's, whose concept required enclosing the restaurant, Longhi has thrown open the walls with immense accordion-fold glass panes that he intends to keep open all the time.

The dining room is tiered to take advantage of views. The 8,000-square-foot, 200-plus-seat restaurant is reached by an elevator that opens to a view of Ala Moana Beach Park.

The U-shaped bar was built by Carol Longhi's Kahala neighbor, Barry Solywoda, from koa wood, some pieces as much as 200 years old. Solywoda built the koa tables, too.The room is a bright, clean white, with touches of warm orangey-red, wood tones and gentle arches. The floor features Longhi's trademark black-and-white checked tiles.

Longhi has long preached about the necessity of a Hawai'i restaurant looking and feeling as though it is, in fact, in the Islands, so the open-air room is cooled by 45 ceiling fans. The only air conditioning is in the kitchen.

Another Longhi trademark, the all-spoken menu, will be modified here as it has been at the company's Wailea restaurant. The servers will announce the pastas and possibly other items, but there will be printed menus.

Longhi's at Ala Moana Center is largely re-creating the chain's menu of time-honored sellers: Lobster Longhi — lobster, shrimp, scallops and other seafood over pasta; Fillet Longhi, a prime beefsteak with peppers; Ahi Turino, tuna coated with macadamia nuts and Italian bread crumbs, and sauteed in olive oil and butter; Fettucine Alfredo, with real Parmigiano Reggiano. "People know us," said Carol Longhi O'Leary. "They want to see those familiar things on the menu."