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Flavors from A to Zia’s

By Rachel Breit
January 18, 2015

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Whenever you’re dining at Zia’s Caffe, Steaming Clams with Italian Sausage ($14) is an appetizer best shared. Who can resist the aromas of garlic, the tender Cedar Sole clams flown in fresh from Cedar Key, Fla., morsels of Italian sausage and a side of grilled bread slathered with garlic basil butter? Your table will make quick work of the popular dish topped with wilted leeks that add an oniony zing and mop up every last drop of white wine and crushed San Marzano tomato broth.

The Cedar Sole clams are especially meaty, more so than other varieties. Because clams soak up the essence of whatever you add to them, in this case garlic and wine, they are exceptionally tasty.

Another palate-awakening starter at Zia’s is Pear and Bleu Cheese Salad (small $9, large $14). There’s something special about the mix of ‘Nalo Farms greens and romaine hearts, ripe pears, cayenne-spiked macadamia nuts, diced red onions, creamy bleu cheese crumbles and red wine vinaigrette. “You get the sweetness from the pear and the creaminess of the cheese. The red onions offer a little bite and crunch. You get the sweet and spiciness of the mac nuts, and you have that tartness from the vinegar,” shares chef Jesse Kila.

Customers return again and again for the flavor-laden salad that’s back on the menu after a hiatus. “It’s been a hit ever since,” says Kila. “For people who like bleu cheese, this is definitely their salad. They go gaga over it.”

A winner with vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, Molokai Sweet Potato Ravioli ($14) similarly delivers a plethora of rich tastes. This time, through herbs and spices. Sage, curry, nutmeg and cinnamon add wintery flair to the hand-made ravioli. Boiled sweet potatoes are pureed with seasonings then stuffed into pasta pillows before being cooked with sage-laced brown butter, fresh grape tomatoes, spiced macadamia nuts and asparagus, and topped with shaved pecorino and a colorful mix of microgreens. “The potatoes have a cinnamon sweet flavor, and when you brown butter it adds smokiness. It’s a nice mix. I guess you could say it’s velvety,” adds Kila, who can assemble 200 ravioli in one hour. “You get the hang of it.”

If you’re in the mood for juicy prime rib, visit the restaurant today, starting at 5 p.m., for a special prime rib feast. Also, keep your eyes peeled for new menu additions in the works. And don’t forget to check out Zia’s pau hana menu for your next post-work noshing pleasure.

Zia’s Caffe

45-620 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe
235-ZIAS (9427)
Friday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Sunday-Thursday. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
ZiasKaneohe.com