Haute Spot: Bernini Honolulu Opens to Rave Reviews

Believe it or not, Italian food is hugely trendy in Japan; And Japanese chefs have a knack at putting their own twist on the classic cuisine.

Case in point: Bernini Honolulu, a Japanese-owned Italian restaurant that opened in April in a small space near Ala Moana Center in Honolulu to rave reviews.

Chef Kengo Matsumoto got his chops in northern Italy before opening three restaurants in Tokyo. Bernini is his first eatery in Hawaii — and one of a slew of Japanese-owned Italian restaurants that dot the culinary landscape in the Islands.

It’s pretty evident just look at its menu that Bernini serves its signature brand of Italian fare: fresh sea urchin spaghetti, king crab atop linguine with a tomato cream sauce, penne with swordfish and an oregano tomato sauce and the Vongole Bianco (shown) consisting of fresh clams in a white wine sauce.

And if you love authentic Italian-style pizza, Bernini won’t disappoint, offering 18 different varieties of pie all cooked in a WoodStone pizza oven.

Our recommendations: Vongole Bianco (fresh clams in white wine sauce), half-chicken Al Forno (crispy roasted chicken, Bernini style), Norcia pizza (mozzarella, sausage, mushrooms, walnut and truffle oil) and the Japanese-style panna cotta with a fresh fruit-white wine gelee for dessert.

Bernini Honolulu, 1218 Waimanu St., Honolulu. Hours: 5:30-11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday. Phone: 808.591.8400.

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