Posts Tagged 'Italian Food'

Central Bakery

Happy New Year! I am so grateful for all that 2015 brought me, and wish for another year filled with blessings.

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I kicked off the new year with a get together with some dear long-time friends at Central Bakery in Kahala. It’s a recently opened bakery and Italian restaurant in one, located in the same lot as the Olive Tree Cafe by Kahala Mall.

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At the entrance is a bread counter showcasing various French breads for sale: epi, brioche, campagne to name a few. I got to sample many of these during the course of our lunch. They also have pastries available for takeout.

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The daytime menu includes brunch items like French toast, as well as classic sandwiches croque monsieur and open face tartines, and a full list of pasta dishes.

We were first served and assortment of house breads: olive, cranberry & walnut, cream cheese, etc. Although I love dense, chewy breads like campagne, it seemed they were all a bit too dense for my friends’ liking.

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Here’s the penne arrabbiata ($14.00) and a side salad.

and my selection of 3 kinds of Tartines($14.00): ricotta cheese & ham, salmon & avocado, prosciutto, mozzarella & tomato:

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and the classic croque monsieur ($14.00) topped with béchamel sauce:

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I thought the lunch was actually quite a nice value: a nice, sit-down meal in a stylish eatery for under $20.00. Next time I would love to return for dinner and try more of their Italian dishes.



Anniversary Dinner

We celebrated yet another wedding anniversary! Hubby’s favorite food is pasta, so we headed to Arancino in Waikiki for a dinner date.

Carpaccio of Scallops ($16.00) topped with sea asparagus, tobiko, and champagne dressing.

Insalata Alla Caprese ($14.00) with mozzarella as soft as pillows.

Spaghetti with Tobiko and Calamari ($17.00) with a light garlic olive oil sauce. I loved this dish.

Spaghetti with Black Squid Ink ($15.00) with a mild, almost sweet garlic sauce.

And after dinner, we of course walked over to Crepe House for crepes filled with strawberries, whipped cream, and gelato!

May life continue to be good to us for many more years to come…!

MENU: View the menu on their website here.

Arancino di Mare
ground level of Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort
2552 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815

Breakfast 7:00a-10:30a
Lunch 10:30a-2:30p
Dinner 5:00p-10:30p

Bella Mia Pizzaria

You can’t miss this brand new pizzeria in Moiliili that just opened a few weeks ago (I believe they are under the same ownership as the Bella Mia in Kaimuki). You’ll see the bright flags just before Los Chaparros Mexican restaurant when driving down South Beretania Street. A former house was converted into a home style pizzeria with a charming open air dining area. I drive by here all the time and could not ignore the flags waving in my face any longer so Hubby and I stopped in for dinner the other day.

We started off with Pizza Fries: exactly what it sounds like, french fries with tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni on top. Simple, but yummy. Hubby loves any kind of fries with toppings – gravy fries, chili cheese fries – and these pizza fries were no exception.

Bella Mia - Pizza Fries ($5.95)

Spaghetti with Sausage and Peppers ($10.95) – the marinara sauce was so yummy. I usually don’t expect much from pasta at a pizzeria but this pasta was a surprise hit.

Bella Mia - Spaghetti with Sausage and Peppers ($10.95)

10″ Just Cheese Pizza ($7.50) – piping hot! The crust is light and not as chewy as CPK crust, but we enjoyed it.

Bella Mia - 10" Cheese Pizza ($7.50)

The food is standard but good and freshly made. The prices are reasonable and service is good so what more can I ask for? I think it’s a great place to take your family or a group of friends and share everything family style. The only thing is the limited parking space, I think you just have to find street parking.

MENU: View the menu here.

Bella Mia Pizzaria
2222 S. Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96826
Daily 11:00a-9:00p

Sabrina’s Ristorante Italiano

This month’s girls’ dinner was at Sabrina’s in Kaimuki at the request of the birthday girl.

I read online Yelp reviews which provided helpful tips warning first timers about the slow service at Sabrina’s. Yelpers recommended I avoid going there on a starving stomach (check – I snacked before I went) and go with good company to pass the time (check –  what better company than decade-long girlfriends!?) and how right they were. Also note that the restaurant is BYOB (no corkage fee) and parking is very limited (but not to worry – there’s a paid lot right across the street for a $5.00 flat fee).

The restaurant was tiny and very busy. Indeed the service was slow  and it was 2 hours before we got our entrees. The server strongly recommended we order family style because “there’s only one chef in the kitchen and the dishes come out one at a time” but once the entrees started coming, the lag between the dishes turned out to not be so bad.

The food: delicious! We shared an Insalata di Rucola ($9.50) with prosciutto and parmesan cheese with an olive oil balsamic dressing.

Sabrina's - Insalata di Rucola ($9.50)

My homemade Ravioli Pomodoro E Basilico ($17.75) stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a fresh tomato sauce.

Sabrina's - Ravioli ($17.75)

Sabrina’s Dream ($16.50) – orecchiette pasta in tomato pesto sauce.

Sabrina's - Sabrina's Dream ($16.50)

Bucatini All’Amatriciana ($18.50) – hollow spaghetti in a slightly spicy tomato sauce.

Sabrina's - Bucatini ($18.50)

Daily Special ($23.00) – squid ink linguine with seafood and a kick of chili peppers. This dish was so full of flavors of the ocean.

Sabrina's - Daily Special ($23.00)

There’s no arguing that the food here is fresh, homemade and delicious. It is some of the best Italian food in Honolulu for sure. But when factoring in the price and wait, I would probably choose another restaurant over Sabrina’s.

They have a little sign at each table that explains why their food takes so long (how they put care into each dish, etcetera, etcetera). They call it “slow food” which I found humorous because while the speed at which the food comes out is probably not what the founders of the slow food movement had in mind, Sabrina’s food certainly is slow food on so many different levels! But they seem to have a solid following of customers who are able to look past the slow service and come armed with a bottle of wine (or two or three) to enjoy the evening. As for me patience, sadly, is not one of my virtues. Something to work on…

MENU: View the menu here.

Sabrina’s Ristorante Italiano
3036 Waialae Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816
Tue-Sun 5:30-10:30p

Mediterraneo Italian Restaurant

This month’s girls night was at Mediterraneo. The birthday girl selected this restaurant because she had never been there before, and she LOVES pasta.

It’s a small restaurant with only a couple parking stalls in the back, so your best bet is probably to look for street parking. The inside is charming with its wooden tables and chairs, decorative plates and blue glass goblets. We went on a Saturday night, and by 6:30pm the place was full with people waiting outside.

Here’s their house bread served with a dipping sauce of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and parsley.

Mediterraneo - Bread

We started off with Insalata Contadina ($6.75), a salad of greens and chopped tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. I loved this dish – so simple and fresh.

Mediterraneo - Insalata Contadina ($6.75)

For the pastas you can choose between Fettucine, Tagliolini (slightly thinner than the Fettucine), Trenette (slightly wider than the Fettucine), or Penne. The birthday girl ordered Fettucine Strangola Preti ($15.50) with lots of chunks of homemade sausage and porcini mushrooms.

Mediterraneo - Strangola Preti ($15.50)

Here’s the classic Tagliolini Puttanesca ($14.50) with olives, capers and anchovies in a tomato sauce. My friend said it was the best Puttanesca she’s ever had.

Mediterraneo - Puttanesca ($14.50)

The Ravioli Funghi ($17.00) in a tomato basil sauce.

Mediterraneo - Ravioli Funghi ($17.00)

And I had the Tagliolini Erbe ($14.00), a fresh herb tomato sauce. It had TONS of fresh herbs in it. You can actually see the “branches” of rosemary and sage in the sauce. You have to really love fresh strong herbs like rosemary to enjoy this pasta, which I did.

Mediterraneo - Erbe ($14.00)

Our pastas were all very tasty and full of flavor, but we all agreed that the sauce to pasta ratio was way too high. In addition to my pasta being “oversauced”, it was very salty too, so I took the leftovers home to enjoy with a nice big piece of baguette.

PRICE RANGE: Approx. $6.75-$15.00 for appetizers and salads, approx. $13.00-$23.00 for pastas and entrees. Click to view the menu here but I noticed they’ve changed the prices from what’s printed here. Prices on most items have increased by $0.50-$1.00.
MY BILL: $26.00 including my share of the birthday meal

Mediterraneo Italian Restaurant
1279 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814

Mon-Sat 5:30p-9:30p
Closed on Sundays

Arancino on Beachwalk

Another coworker took me to lunch at Arancino on Beachwalk for my birthday. They have a lunch special for $13.00 that includes a salad and choice of pasta, but the best part is that local residents receive $2.00 off.

So we both ordered the lunch special and started off with their house Rosemary Focaccia and a yummy Caesar Salad garnished with a piece of anchovy.

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Arancino - Rosemary Focaccia

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Arancino - Caesar Salad

My coworker had the Spaghetti Pomodoro, a simple pasta dish with tomato and garlic.

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Arancino - Spaghetti Pomodoro

I had the Penne Gorgonzola with a rich, creamy blue cheese sauce. The pasta was perfectly al dente.

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Arancino - Penne Gorgonzola

For dessert, they gave me a complimentary Tiramisu ($9.00) for my birthday!

Arancino - Tiramisu ($9.00)

Arancino - Tiramisu ($9.00)

PRICE RANGE: Click here to view the menu
RETURNING?: For sure

255 Beachwalk
Honolulu, HI 96815
Lunch Daily 11:30a-2:30p
Dinner Daily 5:00p-10:00p

Marketplace Cafe at Nordstrom Ala Moana

I met up with my sister for lunch at Marketplace Cafe. This was yet another place I’ve heard so much about since its opening, but I refused to go until now because of the long lines. Thankfully, it was not too crowded when we went.

The setup is a little strange – it’s like half cafeteria, half restaurant and had I not been with my sister who dines here often, I would have had no clue on how to proceed through the line. There are no menu signs, so you just have to go down the line and view the samples: a basic offering of pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, salads, and a few specialty entrees. Then they give you a claim ticket for the hot items, while they give you the salads on the spot. Then there’s the desserts and drinks, and you pay at the register. Up to this point, it’s a pretty straightforward cafeteria.

But after we chose our seats, it sort of morphed into a restaurant: a server greeted us and read off our ticket. “You’re just waiting on your pizza and sandwich”, our server stated, as if that was not obvious. Then she brought us utensils, drink refills, and presented us with what I call a “tip plate” (in lieu of a tip jar) with “Thank you :)” handwritten on her business card at the end. I tell you, it seems like a pretty good gig they’ve got going here, getting tipped for only doing half of what traditional restaurant servers do. Don’t get me wrong, the service and “cafeteria chic” ambience were great, but I just wondered if it was really necessary to have the servers there. I’d prefer it if they just made it 100% cafeteria with no servers and instead had lots of attendants to keep the tables clean.  

Anyhoo, we shared a Bleu Cheese, Pear and Candied Walnut Salad ($10.50).

Marketplace Cafe - Bleu Cheese and Pear Salad ($10.50)

Marketplace Cafe - Bleu Cheese and Pear Salad ($10.50)

I had the Pizza Margherita ($10.50) which was freshly baked with salty mozzarella and fresh basil.

Marketplace Cafe - Pizza Margherita ($10.50)

Marketplace Cafe - Pizza Margherita ($10.50)

My sister had a Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($5.50) served with a cup of tomato soup, fresh fruit, and chips. This is not on their regular menu, but is available off their kids menu upon request. I think this is the best deal in the house.

Marketplace Cafe - Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($5.50)

Marketplace Cafe - Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($5.50)

I welcome Marketplace Cafe as an added dining option when I’m at Ala Moana Center. The food is good, the ambience stylish, the pricing reasonable, and most of all, the location is dynamite. Because it’s cafeteria style, the vibe is more laid back and inviting. This is sure to become one of my favorite stops for a mid-shopping break, or for a casual lunch with business associates.

PRICE RANGE: Approx. $10-15 for most salads, pastas, sandwiches and entrees
MY BILL: N/A – It was my sister’s treat!
RETURNING: Definitely

Marketplace Cafe
Nordstrom at Ala Moana Center
1519 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
Mon-Sat 9:30a-8:00p
Sun 10:00a-6:00p

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