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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 21, 2006

Where to go when you're feeling like Italian

By Helen Wu
Advertiser Restaurant Critic

Lamb chops (lombatine di agnello ai ferri) with mashed potatoes and brocolini; banana chocolate truffle cake with haupia sorbet paired with Murphy Goode Cabernet at Sergio's, Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Advertiser library photos

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Salvatore Favale, bar manager at Pane and Vino, pours. Pane and Vino serves vintages from around the world.

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So after that 9:30 p.m. screening of "Scary Movie 4," you need a place to hash out the relative strengths of each film in the series, and a little something to fill your stomach while you're at it.

But where do you go after 11 p.m.? Do you know of a great dessert place, or a restaurant that's never let you down no matter the late hour?

TGIF wants your suggestions for late-night dining: the best eateries and what makes them that way.

Send your suggestions and brief tales of successful

late-night eating jaunts to tgif@honoluluadvertiser.com or fax to 525-8055.

The deadline is April 28.

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Rating: Three (good)

408 Lewers St., between Kuhio Avenue and Ala Wai


6 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays

Full bar

The younger sister of King Street's Mediterraneo is a second-floor perch where dark wood and a brushed, galvanized-steel bar evoke an Italian enoteca feel. And this place is all about drinking. (Owner Fabrizio Favale is currently on a mission to educate people on the finer points of grappa — he carries six kinds.)

No longer serving breakfast and lunch, Pane and Vino concentrates on its standard Italian dinner menu, which include house-made penne puttanesca.

Go for antipasti such as bruschetta ($5.75) and Caprese salad ($7.75). If you're famished, there's bistecca ($20), grilled beefsteak with a side salad and a soufflé-like lasagna ($13) made with bechamel sauce.

While this isn't "the best Italian food" as owner Favale claims on the answering machine, you'll have a satisfying meal to go with your Italian wine and grappa holiday.


Rating: Three and a half (good to very good)

Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki

2005 Kalia Road, second floor of Rainbow Bazaar


5-10 p.m.; bar 5-11 p.m. nightly

Full bar

Dress code: resort attire

Free validated parking

Reservations recommended

Executive chef Marc Anthony takes a loose approach to Italian cuisine, with items like Caesar salad ($10.95 per person, prepared tableside; minimum of two) and shrimp with wasabi-cocktail sauce ($11.95) on the menu, but hey, the restaurant is in a Waikiki resort, and those two dishes are perennial tourist pleasers.

Herbed house-made papardelle ($19.95) is topped with a meaty ragu of beef, veal, lamb, pork and pancetta.

Lamb chops marinated in olive oil and fig-balsamic vinegar (lombatine di agnello ai ferri, $35.95) were expertly grilled to a juicy, tender doneness. A full-bodied port reduction sauce and mashed potatoes added more comfort to the plate.

Citrusy gremolata (minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest) brightened each forkful of the long-braised succulent osso bucco alla Sergio ($34.95).

Don't skip pastry chef Mei Auyong's excellent desserts — the delicate, silky panna cottas ($6) are a must.

The cozy lounge is a worthy place for happy-hour small plates such as crispy pizzettas ($9 to $10) or snacks with a glass of wine, or just dessert. Be sure to request a booth when you make reservations (which are a must).

Done up in faux-Tuscan style, with earthy, terra-cotta walls, this is a haven for expense-account types.


Rating: Three and a half (good to very good)

Restaurant Row

500 Ala Moana, No. 6D-1

524-8466, www.vinohi.com

5:30-9:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 5:30-10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Full bar

Walk-in only

Free validated parking for 2 1/2 hours

Part of chef-restaurateur D.K. Kodama's Sansei restaurant group, Vino does well on its name and focuses on wine, with sommelier Chuck Furuya leading you down the vineyard path. The food, as good as it is, serves to complement the drink.

Furuya designs the wine lists for the other Sansei restaurants, but Vino (along with its same-name sister in Kapalua, Maui) is a showcase of his knowledge.

Painted murals of the Italian countryside make a quaint backdrop for a pau-hana crowd coming mostly from the nearby legal epicenter of Punchbowl Street. Arranged in the front and the back of the room, caramel-colored leather couches provide comfy lounging.

Small plates don't mean small flavors. Some dishes, such as the mini veal osso buco ($13.95), are not small at all and would have been considered entree-size before overzealous portions became the norm. Order a stream of cheeses, pastas, cured meats and potables and you can end your night feeling you've engaged in a mild bacchanalia.

The affordable menu is limited, but doesn't disappoint, with items ranging from $4.95 for garlic cheese bread to an excellent oven-baked veal cutlet crusted with ginger, garlic and herbs crust for $17.95

Wines also are reasonable, given their quality and sometimes rarity. A changing selection of wines by the glass poured from a 20-spigot dispenser offers excellent sampling. With the exception of two sparklers, all wines are served in 2- or 5-ounce portions, costing $2.50 to $13.50 per pour. Bottles cost $21 to $100.

Another option is to order a wine flight — sampling two ounces each of several different varietals side by side.

Menu highlights include a soft, rich eggplant napoleon ($7.50) accented with chipotle pepper and delicately flavored pan-roasted shrimp ($12.95)in a roasted garlic butter sauce. There are also pasta and pizza specials worth trying, especially the crisp shrimp with spaghetti.

Vino is making a name for itself with its monthly and special events, such as the three-course Communal Table dinner.

Tomorrow, dough boy (and gynocologist) Chris Miura brings his eyeball-rolling artisanal breads, dotted with good things like fresh herbs and dried figs and baked in his backyard wood-burning oven. First come, first served.

Reach Helen Wu at hwu@honoluluadvertiser.com. Ratings reflect the reviewer's reaction to food, service and ambience in relation to price. Menu listings and prices are subject to change. Reviewer makes every effort to remain anonymous. The Advertiser pays for meals.