Alluring Appetizers Shine at Il Lupino

Columns Pupu Picks

December 9, 2012

Story By: Steve Murray | Photos by: Leah Friel

Il Lupino just won’t be the same with the passing of chef Nicola Sayada, who died last week after a year-long battle with cancer. However, his memory lives on in the restaurant’s commitment to fresh ingredients and simple flavors expertly prepared. That became clear during a round of lite appetizers at the Italian eatery.

Sitting under the cool canopy fronting Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Roasted Beet Salad ($14) is a perfect way to explore the ever-evolving menu options. Made with wild sorrel, broken walnut tuile and served with an orange and lemon citrus gel, the salad is wonderfully refreshing as the mint-infused sorrel mixes easily with the citrus gel to coat the firm beets in a icy bath of flavorful dressing.

Sticking with the tasty garden offerings, Roasted Fig Salad ($16) is served with gorgonzola dolce, baby arugula, chopped walnuts and drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. The figs are naturally sweet and the gorgonzola provides a creamy texture and a bit of saltiness that balances nicely with the slightly bitter greens. If you’re sitting down for a full dinner you may even want to try this for dessert. Mix it up. There is no law preventing you from finishing your meal at the top of the menu.

After a large amount of leafy goodness, a craving for something crunchy often arises. Trio Bruschetta ($12) is here to help.

Topped with tomatoes and capers; eggplant and capanada; and roasted beats with gorgonzola and fresh blood orange, the trio of crusty bread toppers provides three distinct flavor profiles that are unique, yet complement each other perfectly. Half each crispy disc and make your way twice around the plate. Be careful, the tomato and capers bruschetta is very juicy and one doesn’t want to make a mess among such wonderful surroundings.

Finally, Insalata Farfalla ($14) is a great way to finish, or begin, your lite appetizer adventure. Fresh sliced papaya is paired with avocado, mushrooms marinated in garlic, shallots, basil and thyme, chopped tomatoes, cured onions and drizzled with a black truffle vinaigrette. It’s fresh, it’s tasty and thinking about it is making me hungry. Check it out.

Il Lupino

Royal Hawaiian Center, Bldg. B, Level 1
Monday-Wednesday, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Thursday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96815

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