Waking Up to ‘Z’ Best in Italian CuisineCover Story Features
March 2, 2014
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
A piece of Italy is tucked away in the mist of Kaneohe’s majestic Koolau Mountains, as Zia’s Caffe is home to Italian favorites that never fail to please diners. Owner Don Dymond has been an active part of Hawaii’s restaurant scene for more than two decades and, in 1998, first opened Zia’s Caffe in Kailua. Three years later, in 2001, this family-friendly neighborhood hot spot made its presence known in Kaneohe.
“In 2013, Zia’s Kailua sold to chef David Kaminski, and was re-branded Bella Bistro. Zia’s Caffe has been in continuous operation for more than 16 years,” says Dymond, who also currently operates Kalapawai Market & Deli and Kalapawai Cafe.
Under the direction of chef Jesse Kila — who’s been in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years — selections of pizzas and pastas grace the menu. In addition, hearty portions of homemade Italian favorites such as Chicken Parmesan, picatta and saltimbocca, not to mention a variety of appetizers and salads that complete the dining experience.
According to Dymond, House-made Molokai Sweet Potato Ravioli ($14), Sauteed Gnocchi ($16), Daily Auction Fresh Fish over Risotto (market price) and Clam appetizer ($14) are just a handful of Zia’s coveted dishes. Dymond also recommends patrons bite into the 10-ounce Rib Eye Steak Appetizer ($15), Island Fresh Tomato Bruschetta ($8), Chicken Salad with Roasted Beets ($15) and Classic Caesar with the fresh catch of the day (market price).
“Over the last few years, Zia’s began to upgrade its recipes and menu items. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our offerings and keep up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry — we are striving to be a trendsetter,” Dymond confirms. “Our customer feedback suggests that we’ve been pleasing our guests with new items and quality offerings.”
Recently, Zia’s Caffe unveiled a breakfast menu available to patrons starting at 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Salmon Benedict ($13) starts off your morning right, as this hearty entree reels in all appetites with two extra-large poached eggs, Norwegian-style salmon, an English muffin swimming in a pool of homemade hollandaise sauce and a serving of golden hash browns. Lox and Bagel ($12.50) is another popular option among Zia’s early risers. This breakfast sandwich features smoked salmon, cream cheese, onions and capers atop a toasted bagel.
“The demand for a classic breakfast (offering) had been building up in Kaneohe for a while,” Dymond explains. “We began to explore menu items a few years ago, and just last quarter, we finally got our weekend breakfast menu up and running.”
Fortunately for Zia’s Caffe, customer response has been exceeding expectations. In fact, kamaaina have been clamoring for Loco Moco. Priced at $10.50, this breakfast of champions hits the spot with a house-made beef and pork patty oozing with savory brown gravy perched atop a mound of rice. Two extra-large eggs complete the masterpiece. And with that, say hello to a well-earned kanack attack.
A good omelette is a key addition to a substantial breakfast menu, and Sausage, Pepper and Onion Omelette ($11) with mozzarella cheese does not disappoint. Patrons also have the choice between a side of hash browns or home fries to pair with the omelette. Vegetarians will be pleased to know that Zia’s Caffe also offers a Veggie Omelette ($11) stuffed with morsels of creamy avocado, melted feta cheese, tomato and spinach, with a choice of hash browns or home fries.
The Windward Oahu restaurant runs its business with full dedication and aloha, and also is giving its clientele something to sip on with its full-service cocktail program, which launched a few months ago. Signature cocktails run the spectrum from Bourbon and Zia Tea ($7) to homemade Sangria ($7). “Eye Opener” breakfast cocktails include the ever-popular Bloody Mary ($7.50), Italian Spritz ($8), Lemon Drop Martini ($8), Mimosa with Italian Prosecco and orange juice ($5), along with other extensive offerings of traditional cocktails and martinis.
“Our corporate mission is to give our customers a wonderful dining experience by offering excellent service and high-quality, locally sourced food, whenever possible, at prices families can afford,” Dymond says with a smile.
45-620 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.