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Dining: Pizza for the Particular

I went looking for pizzas that would make the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana happy.


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Recently Reviewed

Here are some things John Heckathorn had to say in past months. Visit our Dining page to read more reviews!

• Taormina Sicilian Cuisine

Waikiki Beach Walk,
266 Lewers St.,
Taormina “is a dead-on, serious, white-tablecloth, expensive Italian restaurant—with some compelling cross-cultural ideas.” Taormina is a fusion of Sicily and Japan, in both the food and the architecture. Heckathorn recommends the spaghetti with tuna and bottaraga, the roe of gray mullet cured with sea salt, a rarity on American menus. The dish actually features karasumi, the Japanese equivalent, but is rich with “preserved, fishy goodness.”
Reviewed in our May 2008 issue.


Photo: monte Costa

• Longhi's

Ala Moana Shopping Center,
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.,
It’s often hard to find room for dessert, notes Heckathorn. But at Longhi’s, it’s well worth the splurge. He recommends sharing the Caramel Knowledge with two or three friends. It’s three scoops of vanilla ice cream, “slathered in housemade caramel sauce, sprinkled with macadamia nuts, and surrounded by a vast portion of fresh fruits in season.” You can also have this monstrous dessert topped off with some housemade whipped cream.
Reviewed in our October 2008 issue.

I waved my fork in its direction, since it was disappearing all too quickly. “Oh,” she said, finally, “I forgot I said I’d share it with you.” From my meager forkfuls, I would say it was worth a return to Sergio’s.

Next up: two pizzas, neither classics since we already sampled the Margherita.

The proscuitto e rucola ($14) was round, with brown bubbles on the edge of the hand-thrown crust. It was a tomato-sauceless pizza, getting its pow instead from melted mozzarella, salty, meaty proscuitto and generous shavings of Parmesan. Then it was topped with the nutty, green chill of rucola, which is what the Italians call arugula. The combination of flavors, the contrast of temperatures and textures, the rich flavor of the crust itself—all added up to serious food.

And that was before I tasted the schiacciatina con patate ($12). This wasn’t quite a schiacciatina, which is one of those ubiquitous Mediterranean flatbreads. Instead, it was an oval pizza with paper-thin Yukon gold potatoes and sweet Maui onions. It was topped with large doses of mozzarella and fontina cheeses, and—this was my favorite part—leaves of sage, crisped in butter. A sage leaf is fairly intense to eat on its own, but in the context of this pizza, it adds a welcome peppery, concentrated herbal zing.

To cap things off, I had my favorite Italian dessert, an afogado, which is nothing more than gelato topped with a shot of espresso, hot, cold, bitter, sweet, all at once. My friend ordered lemon-thyme and lilikoi sorbets.

A fabulous dinner, though, fair warning, the pizzas may be pizza-priced, but the each salad costs almost as much as a pizza, as does the Tormaresca Neprica, the rustic Southern Italian red wine we drank with dinner. It’s a good wine, given a 90 by Wine Enthusiast, but at Sergio’s it runs a heftily marked-up $10 a glass.

We spent the most here, but we’d had a full dinner and walked out happy.             

John Heckathorn has been writing award-winning restaurant reviews for
HONOLULU Magazine since 1984.

Editor’s Note: For a chance to win a pizza from Romano’s Macaroni Grill, visit our March Letters page for more info.


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