Irresistibly Italian

Chew On This Digest

December 15, 2014

Story By: Jaimie Kim Farinas | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

Surrounded by the lush greenery and towering mountains of Kaneohe, Zia’s Caffe is like something out of a painting. Its resemblance to an Italian trattoria is unmistakable and instantly charms.

Inside, Zia’s walls are lined with vintage-inspired art that continues to transport diners to another place and time. But for all its whimsical appeal, what really seems to entrance customers is its Italian-inspired cuisine.

The family-friendly restaurant has been serving comfort food since it first opened in 1998.

Today, chef Jesse Kila continues to perfect Zia’s fare, showcasing recipes that draw from Italian favorites with the inclusion of local ingredients and familiar flavors.

The restaurant’s Auction Fresh Fish (market price), for instance, is sourced directly from the local fish auction, and therefore changes depending on availability. Cooked with a macadamia nut crust, the fish not only bursts with flavor, but with a medley of different textures as well.

It’s complemented by mushroom risotto, balsamic honey glaze and roasted red pepper aioli.

Owner Lindsey Dymond says the risotto has been changing seasonally, though the current mushroom iteration is proving popular with diners. This, he says, is one of Zia’s most popular dishes.

And while creamy risotto is a great option for those looking to indulge, Dymond and his staff understand if someone asks for a lighter take on this crowd pleaser. For that reason, customers may request to have fish served with ‘Nalo greens, though keep in mind that this one is grilled or sauteed, and does not feature a macadamia nut crust.

Chicken Saltimbocca ($15) also is a hit, featuring a tender piece of chicken with a breaded Parmesan crust that is topped with prosciutto, spinach and mozzarella, and then baked. It is drizzled with a light garlic white wine mushroom butter sauce, and served over pasta.

Be sure to stop in for breakfast every Saturday and Sunday.

Zia’s Caffe

45-620 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe
11 a.m.-9 p.m.
9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Kaneohe, HI 96744

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best