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Foodie Fare
Foodie Fare

Italian Fare With Local Flair

By Christina O Connor Photos By Nathalie Walker
October 7, 2012

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Paesano Ristorante Italiano has been a go-to hot spot for Italian fare, and although more than 20 years have passed since it opened its doors, the restaurant’s popularity has not wavered. Paesano serves up traditional Italian fare, while adding a local flair by utilizing local ingredients.

The menu includes an impressive array of pasta, steak and fish dishes. Filled with more than 70 items, Paesano’s menu is sure to have something for everybody.

Plus, as Nila Rattanasamay, who co-owns the restaurant with husband Billy, explains everything is made in-house.

For starters, Paesano Salad ($7.90) is a tasty way to whet your appetite. The dish features shrimp, grape tomatoes, black olives and fontina cheese — all over mixed Nalo greens and romaine lettuce, and bathed in a house-made creamy Italian vinaigrette.

Paesano has some of the tastiest local seafood in town. For a taste, try Kahuku Shrimps in Shell with Spicy Sauce ($14.90), which features succulent local shrimp.

For more seafood, order Salmon and Shrimp Anchovy Olio ($29.90 for a regular portion), which is flavored with anchovies, garlic, fresh basil and capers and is served over pasta. Another popular entree is Sicilian Chicken ($21.90 for a regular portion), which features a chicken thigh (with the skin sauteed to crispy perfection) and is complemented with oven-roasted potatoes, mushrooms, caramelized onions and tri-colored bell peppers.

To top it all off, Tiramisu ($6) is a must-eat and is a customer favorite. “It is made in-house daily, and it sells pretty fast,” Nila says.

Always looking out for its customers, Paesano makes sure that it dishes out only the highest quality ingredients.

“We use a lot of local ingredients,” Nila explains. These include Hamakua mushrooms, Hamakua tomatoes and Kahuku prawns. All of the fish is sourced locally as well. “With the local products, you can help out the local producers,” Nila says. “And the quality is there.”

On the Side

Located in Manoa Marketplace for the last 20-plus years, Paesano has served generations of loyal customers.

“Paesano has been here so long that we have seen kids grow up and get married, and then they bring the kids in,” says Nila Rattanasamay, who co-owns the restaurant with husband Billy.

The couple had long been involved in the restaurant industry — Nila had grown up in the business, and Billy previously worked at Michel’s. Ten years ago, they finally got their chance to set out on their own when the former owner sold Paesano’s Manoa location. Then, a few years ago, the Rattanasamays opened a second location in Waimalu.

Although the restaurant’s menu is already vast, don’t expect the chefs to stop there. Paesano regularly features a nightly special — the most popular of which may be added to the menu.

“The chef is constantly updating himself on Italian cuisine, trying to find out what is the next thing, the newest thing,” Nila says. “We will keep trying to add more and more dishes.”

Paesano Ristorante Italiano

Waimalu Plaza Shopping Center
98-1277 Kaahumanu St., Aiea
485.8883
Daily, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch)
Daily, 5-9 p.m. (dinner)

Manoa Marketplace
2752 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu
988.5923
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch)
Daily, 5-9 p.m. (dinner)