New Restaurants Open on Oahu
New Releases: We check out three new restaurants, two big time, one better.
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108 Hekili Street, Kailua, 888-8933. Lunch Monday-Saturday 11-2 p.m., Sunday 11-4 p.m. Dinner Monday-Thursday 5-10 p.m., until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free parking, major credit cards.
Prima is in an old Blazing Steaks location, in a Kailua strip mall. Hard to spot, because it has no sign.
Inside: Not a lot of money, a fair bit of style, fairly industrial looking. The collection of young partners did 75 percent of the work themselves. They built the bar out of used lumber, with a friend in the sheet metal business supplying the top.
Another group of young guys, from Honolulu Furniture Co., built the tables out of plywood and the benches from recycled beams.
Keola Rapozo, who normally designs hats and T-shirts, contributed the red paint accents on the walls and chose the chairs: molded plastic Eames chairs in the eye-jarring turquoise that was popular about 1958.
It doesn’t look like any other restaurant I’ve ever been in, and you have to love a place that’s built on youthful ambition, sweat equity and nerve.
The main culinary team is Alejandro “Aker” Briceno and Lindsey Ozawa.
They’re refugees from the kitchen at Nobu Waikiki, where Briceno was pastry chef and Ozawa executive chef. From there, they opened V Lounge near Ala Moana, where the pizza is better than the dive-bar setting.
Then, suddenly, Ozawa was more famous than he’d ever been at Nobu, dishing up grilled-cheese sandwiches out of a beat-up old food truck called Melt.
Prima has the wood-fired pizzas you get at V Lounge, including the boquerones (white anchovy) pizza that made Food Network Magazine’s 50 Best Pizzas list. In Kailua, the crust is slightly different, a nicer texture, since the partners popped for a spiral dough mixer.
However, the real joy is the menu of things you have never eaten before.