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Cozy Up With Authentic Italian Cuisine

Columns Pupu Picks

December 3, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Basic business theory is rather simple; Create a product you can sell for more than it costs to make.

  • Happy Hour Pizza ($5)
  • Basil Limonata ($7)
  • Salumeria ($5)
  • Calamari Sicilian Style ($5)
  • Melanzane Parmigiano ($5)
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After happy hour pupus at Il Lupino, one has to wonder whether they understand the concept because, at $5 a pop, it’s a wonder they cover their costs with fresh island produce and direct-from-Italy ingredients. However, chef Nicola Sayada is doing it, and he’s doing it well.

The Calamari Sicilian Style consists of tender rings of calamari served in a lightly spicy pomodoro sauce with pine nuts, currants and couscous. Every table is presented with fresh a Italian bagguette, which is perfect for cleaning up the bowl after all the calamari has disappeared.

A Happy Hour Pizza with Mozzarella and pomodoro sauce is a light complement to the Salumeria, a collection of four artisan cheeses, (from a choice of Percorino Romano, Gorgonzola Dolce, Cambozola, Ricotta Salata and Double Cream Gouda) and cured meats (Prosciutto de Parma, Speck, Mortadella, Salami Toscana and Hot Dry Salami) that is served with quince paste to counterbalance the salty, sour flavors of the meats and cheese. The quince paste, by the way, is made by Sayada’s sister in California. Needless to say, this is a one-of-a-kind item.

If you like your meatballs big — and who doesn’t? — the Polpettone al Pomodoro will be the best $5 you ever spent. Made with a combination of pork, veal and beef, and served with a pomodoro sauce and Parmesan cheese, the dish is surprisingly light, and the sauce naturally sweet from the San Marzano tomatoes Sayada uses in his dishes.

Eggplant is as an Italian ingredient as tomatoes, and Sayada uses it beautifully in his Melanzane Parmigiano. The eggplant is fried and topped with a spicy pomodoro sauce, and Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. It’s delicious. The eggplant is firm and moist, and the entire dish speaks to Sayada’s belief that good food is simple food — simple food made from high-quality ingredients, that is.

Still not full? Try the Trio di Bruschette. The grilled pieces of Parmesan batar bread are topped with tomato and a tarragon vinaigrette. This is joined by golden and red beets baked with gorgonzola dolce with a balsamic reduction and prosciutto mousse. Pair any of these with $4 select beers, $5 wine by the glass and $7 cocktails, and you’ve got yourself an evening that will satisfy your desires without killing your wallet. Happy Hour runs daily, 3-6:30 p.m.

Il Lupino

  • Where
    • Royal Hawaiian Center
    • 2233 Kalakaua Avenue, Building B
    • Honolulu, HI 96815
  • Call
    • (808) 922-3400
  • Hours
    • Open daily
    • 8 a.m.- Midnight