Viva Italia!

Digest Foodie Fare

December 3, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Romano’s Macaroni Grill has a tasty holiday treat for its guests. Tomorrow the restaurant will unveil 28 new menu items. Located in Hookipa Terrace at Ala Moana and at Waikoloa Village on the Big Island, Romano’s Macaroni Grill is the perfect place to take a break from your holiday shopping and relax with some of the restaurant’s classic favorites as well as the incredible new dishes.

  • Roasted Turkey Panini ($11)
  • Chef Michael Longworth with Macaroni Grill's Caprese
  • Chicken Under A Brick ($19)
  • Pesto Spaghetti ($17)
  • Caprese ($11)
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Taking a break from the kitchen, chef Michael Longworth explains that with the new menu, the restaurant is trying to get more in touch with traditional Italian food. This means the inclusion of simple, yet flavorful dishes such as Pesto Spaghetti ($17).

Made with fresh chitarra pasta, this dish is a mix of rosemary ham, pesto, peas, ricotta salata and crispy prosciutto. Longworth says that this dish exemplifies “the styles and the way that they cook in Italy.” With just a few ingredients, “you have a nice flavorful pasta that is simple and filling at the same time.”

Another new dish being unveiled tomorrow is Chicken Under A Brick ($19). This item features a sage-roasted half chicken, which, as the name suggests, is cooked under a brick. It’s complemented by asparagus, roasted potatoes and diavola sauce. Another must-try is the Roasted Turkey Panini ($11). Made with turkey breast, pancetta, arugula, tomato, grain mustard and ciabatta, this panini is the perfect lunch. And if you’re in the mood for salad, Macaroni’s newly revamped Caprese ($11) is a good option. With vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, this dish is bursting with flavor.

In order to get in touch with more traditional Italian food, representatives from Macaroni’s Grill corporate division visited Italy last year to conduct research on Italian flavors and cooking styles, all while keeping the American palate in mind. Plus, the restaurant has long been getting some of its ingredients from Italy. Macaroni Grill’s olive oil, pasta and tomatoes — key ingredients for many Italian dishes — are imported from Italy.

If you have favorites from Macaroni Grill’s current menu, don’t worry, they’re not going anywhere. “We are still going to keep some of those favorite Italian-American dishes, like the Fettuccine Alfredo ($13), and the things that people love,” says Longworth. Other customer favorites that are sticking around are Mushroom Ravioli ($15), Lasagna Bolognese ($17) and Create Your Own Pasta ($13.50), which gives you a choice of pasta, sauce and other ingredients.

And Macaroni Grill’s great happy hour is still here. Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. daily, and features draft and domestic beers for $3, house wine for $3 and imported beer for $4. With your happy hour beverages, you now can try the new Italian Tapas, such as Bruschetta Crostini ($7), Goat Cheese Peppadew Peppers ($7) and Shrimp, Cannellini Bean & Avocado Crostini ($9).

On the Side

In addition to Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s wide selection of new menu items, the restaurant has other holiday treats, both for its guests and for those in need.

Instead of just taking a dinner break from shopping at Macaroni Grill, why not do some of your shopping here while you’re at it? For each $25 gift card you purchase now through Dec. 31 at either the Ala Moana location or on the Big Island at Waikoloa Village, you get a $5 dining certificate. “It’s kind of like a gift for yourself,” says Longworth. The certificates are redeemable at either location.

Also during the holiday season, Macaroni Grill is collecting donations for Hawaii Foodbank. Plus, if you bring in a donation, you will receive a special gift. Donations will go to Hawaii Foodbank on Oahu, Maui Foodbank and Food Basket on the Big Island.

“It’s feeding people who need food, when we make our living off of selling food,” Longworth explains, adding that the staff has been bringing in canned food donations, too. “It kind of works hand in hand. It’s nice to give some of that back.”

In addition to the Foodbank campaign, the restaurant also is continuing its MAC FUNDRAI$ER program, which allows nonprofits, schools or sports teams to host a fundraiser at the restaurant. On a group’s designated day, it will receive 20 percent of the proceeds from parties who say they are there for the fundraiser.

Macaroni Grill has a long tradition of supporting the community. “The community supports us, so we want to try to support them,” Longworth explains.

Both restaurant locations are open for the holidays. On Oahu, the restaurant is open Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. On the Big Island, the restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill

  • Where
    • Ala Moana Center, Hookipa Terrace
    • 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 42420
    • Queen’s Marketplace, Waikoloa Beach Resort
    • 201 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Suite 1010
  • Call
    • (808) 356-8305 (Ala Moana)
    • (808) 443-5515 (Waikoloa)
  • Hours
    • Sunday – Thursday
    • 10 a.m.- 10 p.m.
    • Fridays and Saturdays
    • 10 a.m.- 11 p.m.
  • Website

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