Where fine wine and fare stay true to form

Ali Carte Columns

October 5, 2014

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

Tucked away in Market City Shopping Center (bottom level) lies a dining gem that whisks patrons away to the vineyards of Napa Valley and the rolling hills of European countrysides, through elegant Italian and French fare perfectly complemented with an inspiring wine collection.

Known as Formaggio Wine Bar, the eatery is adorned with rustic charm, most notably in the form of largescale wine cellar doors flanking the walls that make patrons feel as though they are wining and dining amid aging barrels of the good stuff.

Adding to the charm is a beautiful menu prepared by head chef Guillermo Camacho. The pizza selection, for instance, boasts Pizza Primavera ($13.99), a vegetarian-friendly number brightly dressed with Portobello mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, roasted peppers and onions. The thin-crust pie is heightened with mozzarella and goat cheeses.

Owner Niraj Maskey recommends pairing a refreshing Pinot grigio with Pizza Primavera, noting that the eatery houses more than 80 bottles of wine available by the glass.

Formaggio’s staff is well versed in helping patrons select ideal wines for their meals. “They are very knowledgeable … some have been in the wine business for 20 years,” says Maskey. “We have tastings for all the wine by the glass, so you can create your own flight. Instead of having a glass of one wine, you can have three different wines — 2 ounces each — and compare side by side.”

When it comes to the signature Three Kings Panini ($14.99), Pinot noir will do the trick. The fine medium-bodied wine pairs well with the sandwich’s ham, pastrami, Prosciutto and Gruyere cheese, which are pressed on sumptuous focaccia.

During October, Formaggio presents a truly mouth-watering Seafood Linguine ($14.95) special that shines with squid, clam, mussels and shrimp, tossed in a creamy sauce nuanced with gorgeous garlic, red onion, caper and basil. And the fancy grape juice to match? A buttery Chardonnay, advises Maskey.

Happy hour offers more must-haves from 5:30 to 7 p.m. nightly and again from 10 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. During this time, $5 glasses from the wine list, as well as other drink specials accompany menu items ranging from Mini Wild Mushroom Pizza to Turkey Pesto Panini, all for less than $10.

Formaggio Wine Bar

Market City Shopping Center
2919 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 106
Monday-Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-midnight
Friday-Saturday, 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m.
Sunday, 5-11 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96826

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best