An authentic Italian gem in Waikiki
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Tucked away off a quiet garden path in Royal Hawaiian Center, Il Lupino Trattoria and Wine Bar is a tranquil slice of Italy right in Waikiki.
Inspired by eateries in Italy, Il Lupino offers traditional Italian cuisine, which includes hand-made pasta. And recently, it unveiled a new pasta recipe that is more al dente.
“It is even better now,” manager Maria Prioletti says, “and very authentic.”
The pasta is showcased in dishes such as Gamberoni alla Siciliana ($25 lunch, $29 dinner). The dish features sauteed jumbo shrimp swimming in a sauce comprised of olive oil, garlic, white wine, chili peppers and clam broth, and topped with fresh basil.
Waikiki restaurants sometimes are stereotyped as being too expensive. But in the case of Il Lupino, that’d be a misconception, as the menu is filled with reasonably priced items, including Lobster Croissant ($14). Available only for lunch, patrons are presented with a towering croissant sandwich loaded with Maine lobster, crispy bacon, roasted peppers and red pepper aioli. It also comes with a choice of house salad, or a heaping pile of truffle fries.
Here at Il Lupino, diners also will find a dose of local influence on the menu.
“We take care of all of our guests, and the locals are very important to us,” Prioletti says.
Bruschetta di Tonno ($13) is a locally inspired item, which features sashimi-grade ahi prepared tartar style and tossed in ginger apple vinaigrette with chives and Maui onions. It’s served on sourdough bread with arugula and avocado.
In Prioletti’s opinion, Il Lupino’s food is the best in town — to the point where even on her days off, it’s all she wants to eat. Plus, she says, the restaurant has earned a stamp of approval from a hard-to-please customer: her Italian husband.
“He is very picky about his food, and this is his favorite restaurant,” she says.
Il Lupino Trattoria and Wine Bar
Royal Hawaiian Center
2233 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 110, Honolulu
Daily, Breakfast: 7 a.m.-noon Lunch: Noon-5 p.m. Dinner: 5-10:30 p.m. (Late-night dinner until 12:30 a.m. Thursday-Saturday)