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Pasta Al-Fredo, kept in the family style

Columns Veg'n Out

May 4, 2014

Story By: Andy Beth Miller | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

Ambling along narrow, cobblestone streets — every corner boasting a balcony with curtains billowing from windows flung wide — my senses swing into overload as the sights, sounds and smells of Italian cuisine and culture permeate the piazza and surround my every step.

This idyllic Eden I speak of is Italy — a country known for its passion for both living life to the fullest and enjoying good food (and not necessarily in that order). Evidence of this creed abounds in aromas emanating from any of its countless eateries — scents so sinfully delicious they are enough to make the Godfather himself weep with gastronomic gusto.

And speaking of fathers, no stranger to Italy’s epicurean appetites, Zia’s Caffe located in Kaneohe does the palates of even the pickiest padres proud by boasting a menu of authentic and inspired cucina cuisine. Dining Out stopped by to see and sample just what Zia’s is cooking up this week.

Although Italy’s mob bosses will reveal that revenge is “a dish that tastes best when served cold,” I assure you that this hearty (and healthy) pasta is served piping hot — and more than pleasing to the palate. Gnocchi Primavera ($16.50) features Gnocchi pasta cooked al dente before being paired with Zia’s housemade pesto and a garden full of vibrant vegetables including beets, green peas, crimini mushrooms, spinach and bell peppers. Apart from the absolute deliciousness of the dish itself, vegans have an added reason to rejoice over this mouthwatering meal — it’s absolutely animal product free.

“There are no animal products in this dish as the pesto is housemade with olive oil and no butter is used in any part of its preparation,’ assures chef Jesse Kila. “I created the recipe using Macadamia nuts versus the usual pine nuts which really adds a unique and rich flavor.”

For a cool, crisp, light and refreshing lunch or dinnertime dish, try Zia’s Pear and Bleu Cheese Salad ($14). Just recently reintroduced by popular demand, this salad is a cornucopia of cancer-fighting, vitamin-infused veggies. Added atop a bed of locally sourced Nalo greens are romaine hearts, housemade red wine vinaigrette, diced pears and onions, bleu cheese and candied Macadamia nuts — resulting in the perfect marriage of seemingly contradictory but oh-so-complimentary textures and flavors.

“This salad has it all,” explains Kila. “It’s got crunch from the onions, pears and nuts, salty and creamy tastes from the bleu cheese, sweet n’ tangy tones from the vinaigrette and a sweet and crunchy combo from the candied mac nuts.”

And for all you early birds, Zia’s is open weekends with a full breakfast menu beginning at 9 a.m. So, leave the gun and take the cannoli, because today “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse,” inviting you to head on over to enjoy your own little slice of Italy at Zia’s Caffe in Kanoehe. Buon appetito!

Contact Andy Beth Miller at diningout@staradvertiser.com

Zia’s Caffe

620 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe
235-ZIAS (9427)
Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
ZiasKaneohe.com

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