Let’s be honest. I have an unbridled obsession with all things Italiano: the cuisine, the wine, the language and the romance. La Dolce Vita! But being here in Hawaii, it’s always a real challenge to find good, authentic Italian food. And even locals and visitors don’t have high expectations. Yet, this piece is sure to prove that “Si!”, we do have our fare share of quality Italian right here in Hawaii. Check out my top 5 selections:
1 Baci Bistro
Baci Bistro is a true treat serving authentic Italiano cuisine in a seductive, date-worthy atmosphere. Located in scenic Kailua, this cozy gem offers an “old world” Italian atmosphere. The covered solarium provides stellar ambiance with lush greenery, murals on the wall and even a privacy net for the utmost intimacy. In addition to its romantic feel, Baci prides itself on delicious dishes made with the freshest ingredients. Try the Proscuitto e Melone and Pane all Aglio to begin your Baci meal. The Linguini alle Vongole is filled with fresh clams. And the Fettucine Nere con Capesante is comprised of black pasta with scallops, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes in a creamy saffron sauce for a more decadent choice. If generous portions of pasta, risotto and gnocci aren’t your deal, there are also several veal, chicken and fish entrees available. And, what Italian meal would be complete without tiramisu? Baci Bistro makes the best I’ve had on Oahu as well as mascarpone cheesecake, profiteroles, gelatos and sorbettos.
Located at the Hotel Wailea, Capische? is a romantic and sexy spot that sits high above a Japanese rock garden overlooking the entire south shore of the Valley Isle of Maui. Often referred to as the best spot to take in a sunset, this intimate restaurant offers just nine tables on its scenic lanai assuring its guests an evening to remember. The Mushroom Truffle Risotto is a must-try in addition to the seasonal Pumpkin Gnocci, melt in your mouth Caprese and Capische? Ciopinno. Combining the best that Northern Italy and Southern France have to offer, Capische? delivers true elegance through its exceptional cuisine, wine and service.
The authentic Italian dishes served at Sabrina’s are well worth the notorious wait. Why wait, you ask? Well, this mom and pop, intimate eatery literally prepares everything made to order. So, start off with fresh baked bread, caprese and a bottle of wine while you await your gourmet meal. It’s BYO with no corkage fee so you can have a few bottles. The Sabrina’s Dream is heavenly made of orochiette pasta in a light sauce of garlic, pesto and a hint of tomato. The risotto with porcini mushrooms is decadent. The spinach ravioli is to-die-for. And the lobster ravioli swimming in champagne orange sauce is orgasmic. Buon appetito!
4 Sarento's on the Beach
Sarento’s on the Beach serves up superb, five star Italian-Mediterranean rim cuisine. Specialties include award-winning presentations of homemade pasta, fresh catch seafood, prime steaks, veal, lamb and pork dishes. In addition to one of the best ocean views found in South Maui, Sarento’s has the best Calmari Fritti I’ve ever had; it's lightly crisped and drizzled with tomato-caper sauce and lemon aioli. The Hamakua Mushroom Bruschetta is magical. And, for entrees, opt for the Spaghetti & Snake River Ranch Kobe Meatballs in pomodoro sauce and sprinkled with pecorino-romano or the Penne Calabrese made with homemade Italian sausage, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, white wine and goat cheese. There are also a plethora of domestic and imported wines to choose from. In fact, Sarento's houses one of the most well respected wine collections in the Aloha State with over 450 wines to choose from.
Taormina, the most contemporary pick of the bunch, serves the timeless cuisine of Southern Sicily with contemporary style and flair. Located on bustling Lewers St. in mid-Waikiki, Taormina’s menu pairs fresh pastas with the highest quality seafood and meat. The Bucatini with fresh sardine fillets, Uni pasta, and sautéed cod with fava bean soufflé are all highlights here. And, be sure to pick a bottle from the award-winning wine list devised by Master Sommelier, Robert Viernes, to round out your sure-to-be memorable Italiano dining experience.