Fresco Italian RestaurantDigest Step Up to the Plate
August 17, 2014
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
Take a closer look at this week’s house special: Cacciucco di Mare ($39.95)
Fresco Italian Restaurant gives patrons the opportunity to bask in the bountiful flavors of Italy without having to travel across the globe. Situated within Hilton Hawaiian Village in the heart of Waikiki, Fresco pays it forward with uniquely local nuances paired with traditionally Italian-inspired culinary concepts.
“Cacciucco is a traditional Tuscan stew. My idea was to showcase some of Hawaii’s finest ingredients, such as locally grown tomatoes and fresh fish,” says executive chef Rodhel Ibay. “We utilize fresh island ingredients, but prepare Cacciucco Di Mare in the traditional Tuscan way. You have the best of both worlds.”
The authentic flavors of the seafood combined with the kick from the tomatoes and chili peppers allow the dish to have multiple layers of flavor.
Ibay has more than 20 years of culinary experience. He attended Gros Bonnet Culinary School, then went on to receive additional training at Culinary Institute of America in New York.
This hearty Tuscan stew features the works. Seafood aficionados praise morsels of roasted half-live Maine lobster, seared Hokkaido scallops, Fresco’s fresh catch of the day, black tiger shrimp, mussels, Manila clams and calamari.
Stew lovers know that a robust base is a must when cooking up a superior stew. Ibay works his magic to create a saffron tomato broth, derived from local tomatoes, Maui onions, saffron and Hawaiian chili peppers. Left to boil for hours, the stew base achieves a rich consistency coupled with bold flavors.
Fresco Italian Restaurant
Hilton Hawaiian Village
2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu
Daily, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (lunch); 5-9:30 p.m. (dinner); 5-7 p.m. and 9-10:30 p.m. (happy hour)
Note: Fresco can validate parking for up to four hours.