A Saucy Mix of Pizza and CocktailsFeatures Inside Feature
December 29, 2013
Story By: Rachel Breit | Photos by: Rachel Breit
Inferno’s Wood Fire Pizza reignites a fire for wood oven-baked pizza right in the heart of Chinatown. Owner Kyle Okumoto has reopened his pizza kitchen inside The Corner Cafe and Bar, on the corner of North King and Smith streets.
“My friend John Moore had the kitchen available,” Okumoto says. “It was perfect timing.” And a perfect pairing. The partnership is raising the bar for good eats and refreshing drinks — beyond pizza and beer.
Previously located in Ward Centre, Inferno’s change of scenery brings with it new inspiration for Okumoto and a source of different ingredients. Something that remains the same, however, is the pizza oven.
“We moved the oven,” says Okumoto. It’s the kiawe wood-stoked oven that gives the pizzas Inferno’s signature touch. The dough, made from Italian-imported flour, rises to a satisfying chew and bubbles with dots of char, equating to silky, earthy “wheatiness.”
Duck Pizza ($20) is a direct reflection of Inferno’s new digs. And the recently developed recipe is already a big hit: “Everyone really likes it,” says Okumoto.
For this creation, Okumoto tops the pizza with roasted duck meat and its deep-fried skin, mushrooms, green onion and mozzarella cheese. Oyster sauce provides the base and adds a taste of “sweet and a little tang of spice,” he notes. The rich, aromatic-spiced ducks are sourced from nearby Nam Fong Restaurant where “they have the best ducks,” Okumoto says.
In addition to the array of beloved pizzas topped with three cheeses, pepperoni, sopressata (a dry Italian salami), sausage, barbecue chicken, a variety of fresh veggies and more, Okumoto is branching out for the lunch crowd with sub sandwiches served on crusty, yet fluffy baguettes. Subs include Italian, Veggie, Meatball and Philly Cheese Steak.
Meatball Sub ($7) is loaded with six moist meatballs, simmered in Okumoto’s own marinara sauce made from Italian San Marzano tomatoes — the same sauce he uses on pizza. Topped with cheese and onions, this sub is the choice for those seeking rustic comfort. “Everyone likes a meatball sub,” exclaims Okumoto.
Another hearty sandwich is Philly Cheese Steak ($8), made from thin-sliced and sauteed rib eye, mushrooms, onions and choice of cheese: a blanket of melted, stringy Provolone or nacho cheese, which mimics the traditional Philly-style Cheez Wiz.
Besides subs, Okumoto plans to offer local-style favorites for lunch. The $6 plate lunches will change daily and include fried chicken, chili and more. All the new menu items are Okumoto’s way to appeal to a wider audience in his new space.
And while plenty of beer is on tap to chug while enjoying slices of pizza, Corner Bar and Grill owner Moore and team of bartenders are on hand to whip up a variety of spirits and cocktails made especially with pizza in mind. The $6 cocktails pop with juicy flavors and add fruitiness without overwhelming their cheesy counterparts. “They’re refreshing,” says bartender Micah Waiau. “Sweet, but not overly sweet.”
Ordering the BBQ Guava-Smoked Pork Pizza ($16)? Try White Sapphire. It’s pink guava juice mixed with Bombay Sapphire Gin, lime and mint, is a good marriage for the pizza, mingling the different elements of the guava tree.
Going a lighter route with a veggie pizza, such as Spinach Garlic Tomato Pizza ($15)? Try Pearmint Tart, made with Grey Goose pear vodka, lime juice and mint, garnished with a slice of pear and mint sprig. Save the last sip to ward off garlic breath.
The next time the craving for classic Italian (or a twist) strikes for lunch or dinner, hit the town, heat up with some fabulous pizzas and cool off with a bevy of beverages. Be sure to catch Happy Hour from 2 to 8 p.m. daily to enjoy $1 off all drinks. Parking is available close by in the Municipal lot on Smith Street.
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.