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Inside Feature

Bringing the “Wow” Factor to the Table

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Nathalie Walker
June 30, 2013

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While Italy stands half a world away, local diners need not travel far to enjoy hearty portions of incredible Italian cuisine that resides at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

Situated conveniently in Ala Moana Center’s inviting Hookipa Terrace, the friendly, skilled culinary wizards and service staff at Macaroni Grill strive to provide a memorable dining adventure worthy of being dubbed a “wow” experience.

“We focus on crisp, very clean flavors. And balance is very important,” says executive chef Nawai Kekoolani, when describing Macaroni Grill’s popular menu. “Our portions are big enough for families to share. We make sure to keep everything vibrant and fresh.”

An open, inviting atmosphere welcomes diners into the spacious eatery, which also includes a full bar and relaxing lounge setting. Whether stopping in for pau hana drinks and pupus or enjoying a family dinner with loved ones, diners are destined to be impressed.

“Everything’s pretty traditional as far as the recipes, but of course, we put the Macaroni Grill twist on the menu,” says Kekoolani. “Our guests have been happy with our food, and we’re doing all we can to bring them back with that ‘wow’ factor.”

One may dive in to start a meal with Calamari Fritti ($12), an alluring appetizer featuring crisp-fried calamari coupled with bold pepperoncini peppers. The bite-size morsels are accompanied by a bold arrabbiata sauce that helps to kick-start the dining experience.

Crisp, fresh lettuce invites diners to delve into Market Chop ($15), a chopped salad composed of roasted turkey, pepperoni, provolone cheese, artichoke, pumpkin seeds and a tasty balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Caprese ($12) also offers a fresh start to one’s meal, as vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil are drizzled with olive oil to tie all the flavors together.

Seafood fans reel in the flavor with Pasta di Mare ($22), a bed of fresh, classic spaghetti alla chitarra accented with white wine, garlic and a pomodoro tomato sauce. The dish is chock-full of seafood favorites, including scallops, mussels and shrimp, which all lend their signature tastes and textures to the visually pleasing offering.

Mushroom Ravioli ($16) is another customer favorite, as the porcini-stuffed pasta pockets are topped with a delicious Marsala cream sauce and caramelized onions. Those with a hearty appetite may gravitate toward Mama’s Trio ($21), a combination of three Italian favorites: Chicken Parmesan, Lasagna Bolognese and Chicken Cannelloni.

The aforementioned dishes, as is the case with all menu favorites, are prepared to be enjoyed family-style — no skimpy single-person portions here.

“We offer casual, family-style dining, but we also try to put a fine-dining touch on the experience,” explains Kekoolani, who previously served as regional corporate chef for Ruth’s Chris, Macaroni Grill’s sister restaurant. “It’s always important to provide guests with a consistent dining experience.”

Macaroni Grill also features a host of happy hour specials available daily from 3 to 6 p.m. The popular menu includes a slew of savings on customer favorites, such as $4 house wines, $3 domestic, $4 imported and draft beers and $7 pizzas — more than half off the regular menu price!

Customers also are encouraged to plan their next special event, whether it’s an upcoming birthday celebration or graduation party, with Macaroni Grill serving as host. The restaurant offers customizable menus designed to satisfy groups both large and small. Keep an eye out for seasonal specials and revamped menu items in the near future.

“If you’re looking for high-quality, fresh food, this is the place to be,” says Kekoolani. “If this is your first time here, we want to provide that ‘wow’ factor. If you’ve dined with us before, I can guarantee you that the food is even more spot-on than it was in the past.”

Romano’s Macaroni Grill

ALA MOANA CENTER, HOOKIPA TERRACE
1450 ALA MOANA BLVD.
356-8300
SUNDAY-THURSDAY, 11 A.M.-10 P.M.
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, 11 A.M.-11 P.M.