Setting Your Sights on Gorgeous Italian Flavors

Digest Eat This

July 22, 2012

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

When eating at Il Lupino, you can’t help but feel that the beauty of food — both in taste and presentation — is captured. Under the direction of Executive Chef Nick Sayada, a talented team of culinarians bring forth resonating flavors in gorgeous dishes.

If you’ve never taken an Italian holiday to the Royal Hawaiian Center eatery, sous chef Eistir McShane suggests starting with a few great dishes. Il Lupino’s Caprese Salad ($14, dinner), for example, is a dressed up version of the classic. All the flavors are there — tomatoes, mozzarella, basil — but they are presented magnificently. The tomatoes are heirloom and locally sourced, giving each plate a unique and fresh selection. The basil is of the Opal variety, presenting an unexpected pop of purple on your plate, and chef Nick’s pink citrus-cured onions give a refreshing burst of acidity.

And then there’s the balsamic vinegar like you’ve never had it before. “These little caviar-looking dealies are balsamic caviars, actually, and thats one of Chef Nick’s unique little touches to the dish,” explains McShane. “It’s probably my favorite thing about the salad because you don’t know what you’re going to get … you eat them and you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, it’s balsamic vinegar!'” With creamy mozzarella and a smooth drizzle of basil-infused olive oil, taste perfection is reached.

For the main course, McShane recommends Linguine alle Vongole ($19, dinner). “The vongole, which is ‘clam’ in Italian, is definitely our most popular pasta dish,” she says. Littleneck clams combine with linguine in your choice of a rosse (red) or bianco (white) sauce, both of which feature minced garlic, chili flake, local Italian flat-leaf parsley, white wine and a touch of butter. The rosse — McShane’s choice — gets its red hue from the hint of pomodoro added to the sauce. “It’s winey, clamy, tomatoey, garlicy and a little bit of spicy. I don’t think I could explain it other than that because you definitely get all of those things in each bite,” she says.

It’s most certainly time to take your taste buds on an Italian vacation to Il Lupino.

Il Lupino

Royal Hawaiian Center
2233 Kalakaua Ave., Building B Honolulu
Sunday to Thursday, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96815

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Hawaii's Best