Cozy Up to Paesano

Ali Carte Columns

January 1, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

As you enter Paesano Ristorante Italiano’s original Manoa Marketplace location, a shelf adorned with bottles of wine and olive oil hint at the authentic Italian meal to come. Though the restaurant has been updated a few times since opening 20 years ago, the same cozy atmosphere remains, nurtured by a family of passionate owners, chefs and loyal patrons.

  • Fresh Clams with Hamakua Mushroom Sauce Regular ($23.90 small, $28.90 regular).
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“These walls have been here forever. It’s a small, you know, very personal, intimate restaurant — it’s not like a corporate business. Everyone is very personable, very customer service-oriented,” says Rae Tanaka, general manager of both Manoa and Waimalu locations.

In addition to the familial setting, thoughtfully prepared Italian food turns diners into regulars. Head chef Gerry Quach, who’s been with the restaurant from the start, recently created Fresh Clams with Hamakua Mushroom Sauce ($23.90, small; $28.90, regular) featuring an exclusive blend of fresh clams, Hamakua mushrooms, garlic, a touch of chili flakes, house-made white wine butter sauce and a secret ingredient.

Diners also may select the perfect accompaniment to any meal at Paesano — wine — from their extensive, international collection visible on wine racks throughout the eatery. A variety of reds and whites are available by the glass or bottle, and small parties have come to adore the charming bar hidden in the corner offering menu services and a full bar.

The Waimalu location serves up the same tantalizing menu while extending just as much aloha, and its private room is ideal for larger parties.

No matter which locale you frequent (parking is a breeze at both shopping centers), the Cioppino ($26.90) is always a favorite. A compilation of mixed seafood, sugarsnap peas, tomatoes, Hamakua mushrooms and capers is brought to life in a lemon-grass, saffron and fennel broth-style sauce, complete with garlic bread for soaking up richly flavored remnants.

Before you know it, you’ll be another regular chatting with owners Billy and Nila Rattanasamay. For it’s the little touches at Paesano, such as friendly service, scenic paintings on the wall from a friend’s gallery or the freshness of a made-to-order meal, that make for the warmest dining experience in town.

Paesano Ristorante Italiano

  • Where
    • Waimalu Plaza Shopping Center
    • 98-1277 Kaahumanu Street
    • Aiea, HI 96701
    • Manoa Marketplace
    • 2752 Woodlawn Drive
    • Honolulu, HI 96822
  • Call
    • (808) 485-8883 (Aiea)
    • (808) 988-5923 (Manoa)
  • Hours
    • Open Daily
    • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    • 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

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