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Fresco serves up traditionally Italian, locally inspired dishes

Chew On This Digest

December 21, 2014

Story By: Phoebe Neel |

Looking to experience Italian food with roots firmly planted in Hawaiian soil? Look no further than Fresco Italian Restaurant, where executive chef Rodhel Ibay serves up Italian food that pleases both Italians and kamaaina alike. Fresco Italian Restaurant in Hilton Hawaiian Village is a fresh face lift to the prior restaurant Sergio’s, retaining the same executive chef and spirit of blending traditional Italian food with island touches.

“We’ve had Italians who say that our food tastes better than what they ate in Italy. I was like, what the heck,” says Ibay, in humble incredulity. “I’m taking classic dishes and putting a twist on it.”

This Christmas season, Fresco showcases two distinctive holiday menus: A three-course holiday menu ($65 per person) and a four-course menu ($80 per person). Each holiday menu offers two unique and palatable tours of Italian-Hawaiian fusion cuisine.

Ibay showcases island flavor by incorporating premier local ingredients. He sources an estimated 70 percent of his produce locally, through close and ongoing relationships with local farmers, such as Dean Okimoto of Waimanalo Farms. Kukui nuts may be ubiquitous in leis, but Ibay wants to put them on our plates — to “wake up the sweetness” of accompanying mashed potatoes.

Insalata Caprese in the three-course holiday meal spotlights Kamuela tomatoes with macadamia pesto garnished with Hawaiian sea salt. And grass-fed beef, local string beans, and fresh fish from auction all make their appearances on the holiday menus. “The execution is Italian,” Ibay says of the cuisine, “but the product is Hawaii.”

The chef pushes the boundaries of modern cuisine as well, using dehydrated, citrus-infused olive oil atop the carpaccio special.

Fresco Italian Restaurant offers kamaaina discounts, free parking validation and a fresh, modern atmosphere. Friday night, longtime customers know that tables 15-17 have perfect views of the fireworks over the lagoon. For a delectable fusion food experience, Fresco is not to be missed.

Fresco Italian Restaurant

Hilton Hawaiian Village
2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu
941-8868
Open daily, lunch served 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and dinner available 5-9:30 p.m.
Happy hour specials available 5-7 p.m. and 9-11 p.m.
frescohawaii.com

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