Getting fresh in Waikiki
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Growing up, whenever I — or either of my sisters — would “sass” my Nana, she’d promptly remind us just how little leniency she has for Southern ladies who don’t mind their manners. I seem to recall her exact words being something along the lines of, “Now Andrea Elizabeth Miller (the name reserved exclusively for when I was really in trouble), don’t you go ‘getting fresh’ with me, young lady!”
And while the repercussions of this type of “fresh” behavior were most certainly bad — resulting in an appropriate punishment doled out to all respectable Southern Belles in my neck of the woods, the opposite aftermath of “getting fresh” while dining at Fresco Italian Restaurant in Waikiki is nothing but one sweet reward after another.
With mastermind executive chef Rodhel Ibay at its helm, this Italian-inspired eatery steers its course(s) straight for the smooth Waikiki waters of wonderful cuisine. Boasting an eclectic menu focused on the impeccable fusion of Italian classics and local Hawaiian flavors, this gourmet grub is good enough for the Godfather, while still paying its respects to the Queen — Liliuokalani that is.
“It’s important to me to incorporate local ingredients,” explains Ibay. In fact, the establishment prides itself on supporting the community (kamaaina) by utilizing ingredients from local farms as much as possible.
Taste the fresh as you bite into Fresco’s Bruschetta ($11.95), a tempting triple-threat appetizer comprised of three homemade foccacia topped with a perfectly proportioned and beautifully plated concoction of Hamakua mushrooms, parmiagiano and avocado gorgonzola.
“I took the basic bruschetta and spiced things up a bit,” describes Ibay of his unique Hawaiian take on the traditional Italian tapa.
Or pick Penne Verdure Ai Arrabiatta ($19.95), a bountiful bed of penne pasta paired with seasonal vegetables, spinach and Hawaiian chili pepper swathed in a savory and slightly spicy Pomodoro sauce. Completely vegan and verifiably fantastic, this fare is not for the faint of heart — I can attest to that because it’s already stolen mine.
Fresco is also a fantastic place to gather for any special event. So the next time you are celebrating, Fresco welcomes you with fresh things even Nana would approve of. Gluten-free? No worries, you are welcome here as well.
Fresco Italian Restaurant
Hilton Hawaiian Village
2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu
Daily, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (lunch); 5-9:30 p.m. (dinner); 5-7 p.m. and 9-10:30 p.m. (happy hour)
Note: Fresco can validate parking for up to four hours.