A place for Italian food in old, new ways

A La Carte Columns

April 17, 2016

Story By: Lynsey Beth Futa |

Scallop Escargot-style ($16)

Scallop Escargot-style ($16)

One would think that after a few times, the view from Sarento’s at the Top of the “I” would get old. But each trip to the 30th floor of Ilikai Hotel and Luxury Suites offers a fresh perspective of beautiful Honolulu. Some afternoons are cloudless with different shades of blue stretching from ocean to sky, while evenings at Sarento’s usually leave the city below twinkling, with the sounds of live jazz and piano music slinking in the background.

After all, what Sarento’s aims to offer its customers is a unique dining experience, complete with breathtaking views, a relaxed setting and, most importantly, delicious food.

Spearheading this ambitious initiative is executive chef Edmond Kwok. A while back, Dining Out spoke with Kwok about his plans to revamp Sarento’s, as well as his promise to preserve a lot of the traditional recipes that have made the restaurant noteworthy. Upon a recent visit, it’s evident that Kwok has accomplished these goals, and then some.

Mushroom Escargot-style ($14)

Mushroom Escargot-style ($14)

Alongside the introduction of new food items to Sarento’s happy-hour menu — such as the savory selection of escargot-style dishes — the restaurant also is offering a Speakeasy Special. Receive 40 percent off any menu item during happy hour (daily, 5-6:30 p.m., and all night on Wednesdays and Saturdays) with each purchase of a signature or featured cocktail.

Although Sarento’s serves classic Escargot ($16), Kwok and his team also have created three escargot-style recipes, including Mushroom Escargot-style ($14), Scallop Escargot-style ($16) and Pizza Escargot-style ($12). So, if you’d rather skip the gourmet snails, you always can opt for one of these.

Baked in ceramic escargot dishes, the new happy-hour additions boast more familiar flavors for the perfect pau hana appetizer to share. Pizza Escargot-style, for instance, includes homemade Italian sausage baked with the eatery’s marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese until bubbly. The scallop option features Hokkaido scallops in a bell pepper and lemon sauce with compound butter and mozzarella cheese, while Mushroom Escargot-style combines Gorgonzola cheese with cremini mushrooms, butter, white wine, garlic and truffle shavings. Each option is served with ciabatta crostini to help sop up the sauces.

As you’ve discovered, Sarento’s is for everyone — the adventurous eaters and no-nonsense food connoisseurs. Each time, one leaves with a new appreciation for the Italian staple.

Sarento’s at the Top of the Ilikai

Ilikai Hotel 1777 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 30, Waikiki
Bar: Sunday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-midnight;
Dinner: Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 5:30-9:30 p.m.

1777 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best