Hawaii eats section
WE'RE CRAVING: ITALIANO!
Members of the Ky family and their friends learned Italian cooking from longtime O'ahu restaurateur "Cass" Castagnola. Since then, they have created a small empire around the concept of simple Sicilian-style food, reasonably priced, in convenient locations. We go back for the hot, fresh bread, the salad with creamy-tangy house dressing, Sicilian chicken and the linguine chicken anchovy olio, both in garlicky wine sauces.
Assaggio, six locations islandwide in Kailua, Hawaii Kai, Kähala, Ala Moana Center, Mililani, Kapolei, www.assaggiohi.com
Because we live on an island, we're used to bumping into friends and neighbors. But at Baci Bistro in Kailua, this happens all too often. The owner personally greets each customer at the door. And not only will you be treated like royalty upon entering, but also upon eating. Try the moi. And to complete your meal, order from a long list of Italian wines, aged to perfection.
Baci Bistro, 30 Aulike St., 262-7555
Milan native Sergio Mitrotti is an artist, both with a brush and a spoon. Inside this nondescript office building is his recreation of scenes from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Against this dramatic backdrop, you'll eat rustic Northern Italian-ish food. The menu is divided in three sections — his nonna's comfort food, his mama's specialties and his own creations. Favorites include gnocchi with lamb sausage sauteed in a barolo sauce, veal al barolo and scampi a la vodka.
Cafe Sistina, 1314 S. King St., 596-0061
SAPORI ENOTECA & BIRRERIA
Brand-new Sapori Enoteca & Birreria is chef Donato Loperfido's latest experiment with his brand of fresh, flavor-rich Italian fusion dishes in Honolulu. Sapori (which means tastes or flavors in Italian) is all about appetizer-size portions and prices, with sommelier-selected wines, beers and liquors from points across the globe.
Sapori, Uraku Tower, 1341 Kapi'olani Blvd., 955-3582
In the old Waiola Shave Ice & Bakery building is a new taqueria that’s packing in the crowds. Never mind that parking on that block of Kapahulu Avenue is hard to come by. Never mind that there are only about five bar stools and about 15 feet of counter space for eat-in diners. None of that matters because at Tacos Ricos, people are doing whatever they can just to get through the door and order a plate of the Cali-style tacos (five for $9) or a giant-sized, three-pound burrito ($9). And you can get your tacos, burritos and nachos with more than just the usual carne asada and shredded pork — you can get them with beef tongue and tripe, too. And it’s open every day until 2 a.m. Ole!
525 Kapahulu Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily
HOLY SMOKED ‘AHI!
If mom had made your school lunches with this kind of tuna, trading it for your best friend’s Lunchables would’ve been unthinkable. Kokohead Foods’ Smoked Ahi Spread ($6.99) is the gourmet version of your canned tuna salad. It’s smoked ‘ahi, mixed with mayo and onions — and just a touch of Tabasco sauce to add punch. It’s salty, smoky, tangy and the perfect topping for crackers. It’s available at R. Field Wine Co. in the Kailua and Beretania Street Foodland stores.
Esteemed travel and dining authority Gayot last week named Chef Mavro as one of the top 40 restaurants of 2010. It is the only Hawai‘i restaurant to make the list. Chef George Mavrothalassitis is one of the culinary pioneers of what is known as Pacific Regional Cuisine.
Apartment3, the seven-month-old restaurant owned jointly by event promoters Flash Hansen and Matty Boy Hazelgrove and veteran restauranteur Chip Jewett, has a new chef and a new menu that focuses heavily on locally grown and produced ingredients. Chef Robert McGee has revamped the menu to include “bold and natural” dishes that support sustainability whenever possible. Apartment3 (Century Center, 1750 Kaläkaua Ave., 955-9300) still offers its most popular dishes like the After School Special (grilled cheese with tomato soup), gourmet hot dogs, thin-crust pizzas and Mini Sammies (a slider trio).
After 27 years, Hungry Lion closed its doors Tuesday. The building that was home to the Nuçuanu restaurant and coffee shop will be demolished to make room for a Walgreens store.
Cattle Company Steakhouse (98-1262 Kaçahumanu St., 487-0054) in Pearl City is celebrating its 30th anniversary Feb. 8-11 with its popular prime rib dinner and mud pie dessert combo for $16.99, available all day during the anniversary event.