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Waikiki possesses an energy like no other. A vast melting pot, the streets are filled with locals and visitors from across the globe exploring the sights and sounds of paradise. Yet, here at Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar in Royal Hawaiian Center, guests are transported into the lap of luxury, whether dining indoors or in the garden terrace.
And ready to experience traditional Italian cuisine in its purist form is Hawaii’s own Yasmin Dar. You may remember waking up to this half Filipina-half Pakistani beauty every morning, as she previously served as morning traffic anchor and social media reporter for KITV 4 News This Morning. However, most recently, Dar’s life has been a whirlwind. Last August, she made the move from Hawaii to Eugene, Ore., to join the KVAL news team as evening anchor of the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. news.
Then, fast-forward to December, when 28-year-old Dar married her longtime love, Sal Fasi, ready to begin a new journey together.
Lucky for us, during her recent visit home, Dar carved out some time in her busy schedule to sit down with us for lunch. But then again, who can say no to fabulous eats at Il Lupino?
“I love coming home, and I’m super excited to be home right now,” Dar says, as she takes in the intoxicating aroma of the spread presented before us. There’s Salmon al Crudo ($32), Cotoletta Capricciosa (pan-fried veal rib chop, $41), La Florentina (grilled porterhouse steak, $98) and Caprese appetizer ($13).
“I haven’t been to Il Lupino before, but I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. As soon as I walked in, I liked the relaxing ambiance and I love Italian food,” Dar exclaims. “I love to eat! There are so many amazing foods that I’ve been opened up to, and my husband, Sal, is a huge foodie. He really got me to appreciate food and freshness. It doesn’t have to be fancy, I just appreciate the simplicity of really good ingredients.”
And with each bite of Il Lupino cuisine, it’s the best of both worlds — superb quality along with the finest ingredients.
“The Caprese is fresh! The mozzarella is fantastic and I love fresh basil on everything,” Dar says of this starter, which features fresh Hauula vine-ripe tomatoes, imported mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic caviar.
Pam-Fried Veal Rib Chop Milanese style, topped with arugula salad, local vine-ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and Nicoise olives is next, along with a massive 32-ounce grilled porterhouse steak along with pan-fried rosemary potatoes, and pan-roasted king salmon with a medley of fresh local tomato relish, capers and Nicoise olives.
“The veal is so good,” Dar gushes. “The olives give it a nice salty flavor, the arugula adds some spice and I love how the pan-fried exterior gives the dish a nice texture. The porterhouse steak is cooked perfectly and it has the right amount of fat to keep it juicy and moist.
“I love the crispy skin of the salmon. I feel like I can eat the whole thing and not feel guilty,” she adds.
A real go-getter, Dar holds a master’s degree in communications from UH Manoa and also has taught a course in communications at Hawaii Pacific University.
In between bites, Dar gives us a peek into her life on and off the camera in Eugene.
“It was nerve-wracking going from a traffic anchor here at home to an evening anchor in Oregon. The backstory is my current news director was actually here in Hawaii on vacation, and he and his wife saw me on the morning news. He emailed me a few days later, and I asked my manager, Nancy Bernal, to follow up. I flew to Oregon, did a read and the rest is history.
“But I definitely prepared myself for this job. I would watch major networks and see how they presented themselves on air and how they delivered the news. I also had a speech coach here who was helping me a lot,” Dar states.
Yet, it’s obvious that this gal didn’t need much coaching, as the camera naturally loves her. Dar also is a professional actress and model, claiming principal roles in film and television shows including Lost, Off The Map, Hawaii Five-0 and Soul Surfer.
Her modeling credits include a campaign for Royal Hawaiian Center, Trump Towers and more.
“I love working in news! Every day is different and it’s so exciting, you never know what to expect.” Dar says, adding that she likes to unwind with power yoga sessions, exploring the outdoors, volunteering at an animal shelter and cooking at home with her husband. Together, they’ve started to grow vegetables on their lanai.
Soaking in the final bites of her meal and the last few days of paradise, Dar reflects, “Everything at Il Lupino is so fantastic. I’ll have to come back … Hawaii will always be home.”
To keep up with Yasmin Dar, find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar
Royal Hawaiian Center, Bldg. B, Level 1
2233 Kalakaua Ave, Bldg B, Ste 110
Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
(Happy Hour) Thursday-Sunday, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.