For the Love of Pasta
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As a child, one of my favorite books was Tomie dePaola’s classic, Strega Nona, in which a magical boiling pot cooks up so much pasta that an entire village becomes engulfed in rolling hills of spaghetti. One of the main characters, Big Anthony, is responsible for the mishap and is ordered to eat all of the pasta as a result. Being the young foodie that I was, this always seemed like more of a reward than a punishment to me, and I have to say that nearly two decades later, the urge to dive into mounds of pasta remains ever-present in my life.
Luckily, all of my wildest pasta cravings have been satisfied thanks to Just Pasta, Kapahulu’s newest dining spot for — you guessed it — those yummy Italian strands of goodness.
The month-old haven of noodles is a sister company to Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood and operates out of a takeout window located in the same parking lot as the food truck. Now, each of Blue Water’s beloved pasta dishes, as well as new, delectable additions, can be enjoyed exclusively at Just Pasta.
The menu of 11 entrees and a variety of specials offers scrumptious Italian flavors that are heightened through head chef Magdy Elzoheiry’s unique culinary touches. His wealth of experience in the industry (since graduating in 1998 from the Culinary Arts Program at Kapiolani Community College) goes into making Just Pasta’s menu one-of-a-kind. “It’s traditional (cuisine), but we put a twist on each recipe, so it’s different than any other place that you go to,” says Elzoheiry.
The first thing I had to try was the chef’s signature Shrimp Scampi Pasta ($9.95). “Scampi is a straight butter and garlic sauce, but when I make my pasta, I add just a touch of cream and shrimp stock to the sauce,” says Elzoheiry. “At the end, I flavor it with a piece of the special garlic butter that we do here.” The subtle addition of cream and shrimp stock instantly had me hooked on this scampi.
I also released my inner “Big Anthony” while devouring Grilled Salmon Pasta ($13.95), a linguini dish prepared with olive oil, capers, shallots, white wine, fish stock, diced tomatoes and cream. The dish is topped with a gorgeous fillet of seared salmon and fresh dill, but what makes it so unique are the pieces of diced salmon Elzoheiry adds to the sauce, allowing their rich flavor to infuse into every part of the plate.
Before I left, I had to try one more dish: Seafood Pasta ($14.95). It’s made with a generous combination of fresh ahi, shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari, and sauteed in an irresistible creamy and garlic-filled white wine sauce. Elzoheiry notes that when I come back, I’ll have to try the entree with his tomato sauce as well. No complaints here.
All of Just Pasta’s dishes are cooked al dente and served with a mouthwatering slice of garlic bread great for wiping the plate clean. Now I’m thankful for my years of reading Strega Nona, as it was the perfect preparation for chowing down these marvelous pasta creations.
1006 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu
Open daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m