A Slice of HeavenAli Carte Columns
December 9, 2012
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
Few things excite Ali Carte as much as a fresh pie of pizza, yet as many locals can attest, there haven’t always been a lot of options in Hawaii for brick oven, artesian slices. For years it seemed as though our only choice was to resort to a chain establishment. But with a burgeoning boom in foodie-culture here at home, we can all be thankful that a niche has been carved out for some serious pies.
One restaurant in particular — Inferno’s Wood Fire Pizza — has a flame that burns brighter than the rest.
What started as a hobby for owner Kyle Okumoto has grown into one of the most popular slices on the island.
“I always made pizzas at home or for parties,” says Okumoto. “Then I got a brick oven. I was just going to do it at home, but everyone liked it, so we put it on a trailer.”
You may remember the owner’s pizza wagon, which first operated out of a small parking lot in Kalihi a few years ago, right as the food-truck craze began to take off. Before long, the lines got longer and longer, and Inferno’s pies became a staple at food truck gatherings such as Eat The Street. This growing success led Okumoto to open a permanent location at Ward Center this past summer.
So what is it about Inferno’s that ignites any pizza lover’s passion? According to Okumoto, “It’s the oven. That’s what makes it taste different from everywhere else.” The eatery’s brick, wood-fire oven uses kiawe wood, which lends a distinct smokiness to each pie. The oven also contributes to the supreme quality of Okumoto’s hand-crafted crusts, which are wonderfully crisp on the outside, but maintain a nice chew on the inside.
When you stop by the shop, be sure to try one of its newest creations, Chicken Ranch Jalapeno ($16). This clever spin on a white pizza features spinach, mushrooms, chicken, olives and a spicy bite of jalapeno, all of which are perfectly rounded out with a bed of ranch dressing in lieu of pizza sauce.
Ali Carte recommends the Pepperoni Bacon Onion pie ($14) as well, with its gorgeous pieces of pepperoni and bacon that not only crisp up beautifully in the oven, but taste explosive in combination with a blanket of melted fresh mozzarella.
The restaurant boasts a number of vegetarian options such as a Veggie ($14.75) pie filled with mushrooms, olives, tomatoes and onions. Okumoto notes that vegan diners may request that their selection be cheese-free.
And pizza’s best friend — a nice, cold brewski — also can be found at the Ward Center venue. Hawaiian Islands Brewing Co. shares the commercial space and offers seven locally brewed beers to accompany your meal. In addition to a great lunch spot, Inferno’s is the perfect place to enjoy happy hour daily from 4 to 7 p.m. It’s as easy as pizza pie!
Inferno’s Wood Fire Pizza
1344 Kona St., Honolulu (additional location at Newtown Golf Driving Range in Aiea)
Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-3:30 a.m.
Sunday, midnight-3:30 a.m.