From Pasta to Paella

Cover Story

May 19, 2024

Story By: Dining Out Team | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Rigo Spanish Italian restaurant is a casual dining spot on Kapahulu Avenue that serves an array of tapas, pastas, paellas and wood-fired pizzas — perfect for sharing among friends and family.

Its daily lunch specials — squid-ink pasta, mixed paella and pizza diavola, to name a few — make it a go-to for midday meals with work colleagues. Diners will find modern decor in a light-filled atmosphere (thanks to a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows).

Run by the Huge restaurant group out of Japan, Rigo also features an extensive selection of cocktails, mocktails and wines at reasonable prices. Be sure to ask about the drink of the day.

Guests may find parking on the corner of Kapahulu Avenue and Mokihana Street; valet parking is available from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.

We caught up with Rigo’s general manager James “Jimmy” Otake to learn more.

DO: What was the vision for the restaurant?

JO: Our company’s vision was to create a quality restaurant that would last for 100 years and to connect meaningfully with the community by partnering with local vendors. Our hope is that our restaurant would be loved by the community.

DO: How would you describe Rigo’s ambiance? What makes it unique?

JO: Rigo is modern, unique and tasteful. The ambiance is business causal for lunch service. Dinner has an upscale, contemporary vibe. Our restaurant is unique because of our attention to detail in food and beverage quality while still maintaining accessible pric es. By offering both Spanish and Italian options, we provide a little something for everyone. Our seasonal menus are designed with the freshest ingredients possible.

DO: Could you share some of head chef Masa Yoda’s culinary background and philosophy?

JO: Chef Masahiro Yoda has more than 20 years of experience in the culinary industry. His roots are in Tokyo, where he started his career in our company 15 years ago at Rigoletto Nakameguro. He soon became the head chef there and was appointed to open multiple restaurants within our group. His goal was to challenge himself to expand his culinary expertise outside of Japan and into the U.S. market. He was given that chance when Rigo Spanish Italian opened in June 2019.

DO: Do you have any tips for dining at Rigo?

JO: At Rigo, you can customize your dining experience for any occasion, whether you want casual dining with a glass of wine and tapas at the bar, are having a date night in our cozy “living room” area, or are celebrating a birthday or graduation with family. To get the full experience, we recommend starting with the tapas, then sharing a pizza, pasta or paella.

DO: What are your three most popular dishes?

JO: Our most popular dishes are the Crostini ($12), which is toasted bread with mascarpone cheese, papaya, prosciutto and macadamia-nut-blossom honey; the Rigatoni Bolognese ($26), which comes with our homemade meat sauce topped off with our mascarpone yogurt sauce; and the Seafood Paella ($35), which is our Spanish rice dish with Manila clams, Kauai shrimp, squid and seafood stock.

DO: Are there any specials diners should know about?

JO: We have Masa’s Seasonal Specials, which are updated by season four times a year. In June, we’ll be celebrating our fifth anniversary here and will have a special anniversary menu available for the whole month. Keep an eye on our website for more details.

885 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best