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Foodie Fare

Traditional, Tasty Italian Treats

Story By Christina O'Connor Photos By Nathalie Walker
April 15 - 21, 2012

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Located in Royal Hawaiian Center, Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar is a tranquil getaway from the busy streets of Waikiki. With its elegant atmosphere — including outdoor seating on an idyllic garden terrace — Il Lupino is the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely meal. The ambience is so encapsulating that you might even forget that you’re in Waikiki at all and instead have been transported to Italy — a feeling that Il Lupino’s authentic Italian cuisine will solidify.

“It’s traditional Italian cuisine, and it’s a little rustic because Chef (Nick Sayada) does everything in-house,” explains general manager Adriana Nickerson. “It’s classic Italian that some people might not be used to. But it is something that I would like people to venture out and experience what Il Lupino has to offer.”

Should you choose to venture to Il Lupino, a pleasant surprise of flavors for breakfast, lunch and dinner awaits.

Dishes that will tantalize your taste buds include Gnocchi Ricotta e Spinaci ($19), which includes hand-rolled spinach and ricotta cheese gnocchi with pomodoro sauce and Parmesan cheese, and Linguine alle Vongole ($16 for lunch, $19 for dinner), which features fresh clams served in your choice of bianco (white wine, fresh clam juice, olive oil and chili) or rosso (bianco with pomodoro) sauce. Other must-trys are Linguine alla Carbonara ($15 for lunch, $18 for dinner) and Tagliatelle ai Tartufi ($15 for lunch, $18 for dinner), which serves up linguine pasta in a citrus cream sauce with black truffle purre and asparagus.

Other delightful dishes include Prosciutto, Mozzarella & Tomatoes panini ($12) and Zucchini e Melanzane pizza ($14), with oven-roasted zucchini and eggplant, tri-color peppers and Parmesan cheese.

Il Lupino also features the only Salumeria in Honolulu. Salumeria options include an array of meats and cheeses — all imported from Italy. One selection is just $5, and you also may opt for the Small Platter ($25) with three meats and three cheeses or the Large Platter ($40) with five meats and five cheeses. The Salumeria is open from 3 p.m. to closing.

In addition to importing some ingredients from Italy, Il Lupino also makes use of fresh, local produce.

“The chef incorporates a lot of local ingredients,” Nickerson says, explaining that some of the salads use Nalo Greens and other dishes include locally grown basil. “We do like to use what local produce we can get.”

The restaurant also boasts some of the best deals in town for its Happy Hour, which is offered from 3 to 6:30 p.m. daily. Dishes including Calamari Sicilian Style and Trio di Bruschette cost $5, cocktails are $7, select beers are $4 and select wines are $5.

On the Side

Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar is the brainchild of father and son restauranteur duo Wolfgang and Peter Zwiener. Wolfgang, who cultivated his love and knowledge of Italian food while traveling through Italy as a young man, was a longtime waiter in New York. One day, Peter proposed the idea that his father start his own restaurant. Today, the two own a number of eateries on the Mainland, as well as Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, which is located directly upstairs from Il Lupino.

The restaurant combines the Zwieners’ vision with the expertise of Chef Nick Sayada.

“Our chef makes everything in house — from the stocks to all of our sauces to our fresh gnocchi,” Nickerson says.

Sayada has years of experience in the restaurant industry, formerly working as a chef in well-known restaurants such as Black Orchid and Nick’s Fishmarket in addition to owning his own restaurant in San Francisco. Nickerson credits much of Il Lupino’s tasty cuisine to Sayada’s creativity.

One example of such creativity, Nickerson says, is a colorful salad, Insalata Farfalla ($14), which includes papaya, avocado, marinated mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and cured onions all bathed in a black truffle vinaigrette. Nickerson explains that Sayada thought up the salad after seeing all of the vibrant colors of the ocean when he was snorkeling one day.

“He is just great at what he does and coming up with dishes,” Nickerson says. “He’s brilliant.”

Il Lupino

  • Where
    • Royal Hawaiian Center
    • 2233 Kalakaua Avenue, Building B
    • Honolulu, HI 96815
  • Call
    • (808) 922-3400
  • Hours
    • Open daily
    • 8 a.m.- 10:30 p.m.
    • Sunday – Thursday
    • 8 a.m.- 11:30 p.m.
    • Friday – Saturday
  • Website