Wine and Dine in Comfort, StyleCover Story Features
March 1, 2016
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Bodie Collins
A host of delectable dishes and more than 350 bottles and vintages of wine have diners crying wolf — a positive side effect of the Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar experience.
Appropriately, il lupino in Italian translates to “little wolf,” and is the childhood nickname of restaurant owner Wolfgang Zwiener. Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar offers stellar customer service, authentic Italian cuisine and an astounding wine collection, all within a sophisticated-yet-casual atmosphere. The eatery is appropriately nestled alongside a tranquil garden behind The Royal Hawaiian hotel in the heart of a revitalized Waikiki.
Il Lupino, which sits directly below Zwiener’s highly acclaimed Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, gives diners the option of eating alfresco in the restaurant’s patio area that features its own bar, or remaining in the comfortable dining room that offers views of the vast wine collection and open kitchen.
“We want our guests to have a memorable experience, and we accomplish this by providing great service, a good time and excellent cuisine,” says general manager Heela Mottus, who also oversees Il Lupino’s wine program. “Everything is hand-crafted, from cocktails to our extensive wine list. We utilize as many local products and ingredients as possible.”
Il Lupino serves breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner daily, and represents an inviting oasis for kamaaina and visitors alike. During lunch, an array of appetizers, salads, panini, pastas, pizzas and specialty items await, including locally themed Loco Moco ($16) prepared with an Italian twist. This hearty dish is composed of a house-made veal, pork and beef patty on rice, and is topped with mushroom Marsala gravy and two eggs, sunny-side up.
Il Lupino also is known for making fresh pasta in house, as well as importing special varieties from Italy to add that authentic touch.
Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese ($16) features a flavorful tomato sauce encapsulating ground beef, pork and veal, all served on top of flat, ribbon-like pasta. Bucatini Amatriciana ($16) is prepared with a traditional sauce adorning a thick and hollow spaghetti-like pasta.
Seafood enthusiasts rave about Spaghetti Ai Frutti Di Mare ($20), a mélange of fresh seafood, including shrimp, fish and mussels in a light yet bold white wine and tomato sauce. Linguine Alle Vongole Marechiaro ($20) also boasts a hearty portion of Manila clams coupled with cherry tomatoes and prepared in a white wine sauce.
The aforementioned dishes are inspired by chef Donato Loperfido and chef de cuisine Lawrence Nakamoto, who focus on cooking authentic Italian fare. By utilizing farm-to-table produce from local vendors, imported Italian cheeses, hand-cut meats and a variety of fresh seafood accented with Italian olive oils and hand-made pastas, the heart-of-the-house team brings the flavors of Italy to life in each dish.
“We stick to traditional Italian recipes and dishes; Italian cooking is all about the ingredients,” says Nakamoto. “You want to cook with the goal of letting the ingredients shine. The ingredients we use, including fresh products from Hawaii, you don’t want to mess around with them.”
Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar is known for its extensive wine collection, which features more than 350 bottles and vintages of vino.
The restaurant was honored in 2015 with Wine Spectator‘s Award of Excellence for offering one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world.
“Our wine list is global, and because we have a lot of travelers and visitors, we have something for everyone and cover all tastes,” says general manager Heela Mottus, who also heads up Il Lupino’s wine program. “We are very conveniently located, within walking distance from Waikiki Beach. We also offer convenient validated and valet parking at Royal Hawaiian Center.”
Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar
Royal Hawaiian Center
2233 Kalakaua Ave., ground level, Honolulu
Daily: Breakfast: 8-11 a.m.; lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; tapa menus: noon-5:30 p.m. on the patio and 6:30 p.m. at the bar; dinner: Monday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m. and Friday-Sunday, 5-11 p.m. IlLupino.com