A neighborhood staple in the Manoa Valley, Paesano is a perfect destination for a relaxed meal with family or friends. There's nothing pretentious about the place, which offers understated surroundings and courteous service. The food is first-rate, homemade, and made even better by the fact that you're given plenty of it. If there is one drawback, it's that folks have discovered this gem. As a result, it can be crowded at times, but its perks still outweigh a brief inconvenience any time of day. Much of the menu is made in house, including bread, meatballs, sausages, lasagnas, soups, tiramisu, canoli and salad dressings.
Recommended for Italian because: Truly friendly staff who are happy meet customer's unique needs and great food add up to a wonderful restaurant.
Local Expert tip: The chef is happy to customize and dishes to the guest's liking.
Lei Lei's Bar and Grill sits right on the golf course at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. Like a bar and grill would be, it's laid back and casual, yet somewhat upscale and classy. There's a putting green out front where the kids can hang out (in full view) if they get restless, and views of the golf course and the mountain range offer gorgeous sights. Unlike the other restaurants at Turtle Bay, this one isn't right in the resort. The full bar can serve up anything you'd like, but their famous for mai tais and Lei Lei's lemonades. The menu has a broad spectrum of great food - burgers, pastas, salads, local fish specials with sides of mashed potatoes, ribs, and the list goes on.
Recommended for Italian because: Their shrimp and veggie scampi are absolutely delicious pasta dishes and will satisfy those in the mood for Italian.
Local Expert tip: There's a different menu for lunch and dinner.
The age-old combination of food, wine, and music finds expression in Formaggio, the enoteca run by owners of an adjoining wine shop. Retaining the feel of an undiscovered gem, the restaurant features a small but distinguished selection of wines that are poured by the glass and by the flight. Dishes like a Cubano roast pork panini, artichoke and chicken sausage pizza, and osso buco are tasty and priced right. Acoustic and jazz acts liven up the scene every night. They offer over 50 wines by the glass, as well as a full bar. After dinner check out the adjoining wine shop.
Recommended for Italian because: Formaggio Wine Bar is renowned for their amazing Italian food and pizzas as well as over 50 wines by the glass.
Local Expert tip: Try the pesto pancetta pizza.
Honolulu offers an affordable version of southern Italian fare at this eatery, one of the small local chain's branches. The cuisine is traditional Italian - ravioli, chicken parmesan, a variety of pastas, as well as steaks and local fish dishes. The servings are substantial and satisfies regulars with well-priced, delicious entrees. Sicilian chicken, roasted to juicy perfection, is a house specialty, and caesar salads which is made right at your table draw raves as well. This place is good for families, date night, or any celebration. Assaggio has restaurants in Mililani, Kailua, and right in Honolulu at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Recommended for Italian because: Assaggio serves up delicious Italian food with great service and an amazing wine list to accent the menu.
Local Expert tip: Don't forget to make reservations, they're always busy.