Mamma mia! Now this is a delicious little bite of Italy
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Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar in Waikiki may be located in the heart of Waikiki at the Royal Hawaiiian Center, but somehow while sitting in the restaurant’s courtyard I felt as if I had escaped into a little Italian fantasy.
Created by famed New York restaurateur Wolfgang Zwiener and son Peter, Il Lupino has received wonderful reviews since opening in December 2010. Described as somewhere in between casual and fine dining, this charming restaurant is simple yet sophisticated, and very relaxing — exactly the type of place you would want to dine at in paradise.
The menu features a nice variety of Italian dishes, including pizza, pasta, panini and salads, that all sound so good you can’t help but order more than you can eat — which is why I love happy hour!
At Il Lupino, happy hour is from 4 to 6:30 p.m. daily and executive chef James Donahue has just launched a new happy hour menu with dishes at just $7 each.
Among the new food items is Ahi Tartare featuring two pieces of garlic butter, thyme crostini layered with avocado and arugula and topped with fresh ahi tuna mixed with ginger apple vinaigrette.
There also is the Palatino Sliders made with prime beef, cambozola cheese and prosciutto, and served with truffle fries and a red pepper aioli sauce.
For the perfect summer refresher, try the Acai Smoothie ($10, available for breakfast and lunch), consisting of gelato acai mixed with seasonal berries, such as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.
“The reason I’m changing the happy hour menu is because I went to Vegas a while ago, and everybody in Vegas, their happy hour menus are off the chart,” says Donahue. “The food is good and it’s a good value, and I think we can do it here too.
“While Wolfgang Zwiener is known for his chain of Wolfgang’s Steakhouses, including in the Royal Hawaiian Center, he also has always had a passion for true Italian cuisine. Through Il Lupino, he’s been able to share some of his Italian favorites. The restaurant also features a Salumeria with imported Italian cheeses and hand-cut meats, fresh pasta hand-made from scratch daily, and fine Italian olive oils.
Il Lupino is open for breakfast (starting at 6 a.m. during the summer months), lunch and dinner. There also is a champagne weekend brunch and late-night wine bar.
Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar
Royal Hawaiian Center, Bldg. B, Level 1
2233 Kalakaua Ave.
Breakfast: Monday-Thursday, 6-11 a.m. (summer hours, open 7 a.m. rest of the year) Friday-Sunday, 6 a.m.-12 noon (summer hours);
Lunch: Daily, 12-5 p.m.; Happy Hour: Daily, 4-6:30 p.m.;
Dinner: Sunday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m., Friday & Saturday, 5-11:30 p.m.;
Late night wine bar: *Thursday-Sunday, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
*Limited dinner menu available, as well as drink and pupu specials.