Arancino Celebrates Its Fifth Anniversary With—What Else—Pizza!
The upscale Italian restaurant at The Kāhala Hotel & Resort is also serving new appetizers and entrées for the occasion.
Two new pizzas—rustica (background) and bresaola (foreground)—are being served now at Arancino at the Kāhala for its fifth anniversary.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
Five years ago this month, Arancino at The Kāhala opened adjacent to the hotel valet. It created a buzz with its fine-dining vibe, a prix fixe menu starting at $85 (and taking hours to finish), a sommelier-created wine list and a dress code that required men to wear shoes.
While much has remained—the wine list is still impeccable and much of the dress code still stands—a lot has changed with this family-run restaurant.
SEE ALSO: “Meet the Family Behind Hale ʻAina Award-Winning Arancino at The Kāhala
For one, the restaurant added à la carte items including fresh house-made squid-ink pasta with a slew of seafood in a spicy tomato sauce ($35) and a risotto prepared tableside in a 40-pound wheel of Parmigano Reggiano ($22). And, more recently, the restaurant’s resident pizzaiolo Antonino Fotia became certified by the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, which was founded in 1998 to preserve the art of Neapolitan pizza-making. Fotia is the first and only certified pizzaiolo in Hawaiʻi. (Brick Fire Tavern in Chinatown was recently awarded the Vera Pizza Napoletana certification by the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana, the only Oʻahu restaurant with this designation.)
The restaurant’s resident pizzaiolo Antonino Fotia is now certified by the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani—just in time for the restaurant’s fifth anniversary.
So, naturally, to celebrate Arancino’s fifth anniversary, there are two new pizzas on the menu.
The pizza bresaola ($27) features bresaola (spiced and cured air-dried beef) with fresh baby arugula, shaved Parmigiano reggiano and just the right amount of lemon zest to brighten it all up. The pizza rustica ($25) combines Italian sausage, roasted Ho Farms cherry tomatoes, broccolini and mozzarella. Both are so simple, elegant and delicious. It brought my dining partner back to her college days in Italy.
In addition to the new pizzas, chef Daisuke Hamamoto has created new appetizers and entrées, all boasting the kind of authentic Italian flavors using local ingredients for which Arancino by The Kāhala has become known.
The new appetizers are carpaccio di pesce ($24), a beautiful plate of eight thin slices of Kona kampachi adorned with slivers of hearts of palm, grated bottarga (Italian salted, cured fish roe) and a light yuzu dressing; and the arancini siciliani ($13), a gorgeous risotto croquette in the shape of a tomato made with fried Bolognese and mozzarella with an arrabiata sauce and dusted with tomato powder that general manager Alessandro Bolla says gives it a little “zesty flavor to the dish.” It’s as delicious as it is beautiful, and I could have ordered two more.
The two new entrées are a revamped version of the restaurant’s popular chitarra alla pescatora ($35), house-made squid-ink pasta with huge pieces of lobster, scallops, shrimp, octopus, clams and calamari in a spicy tomato sauce; and a sous-vide herb-crusted Colorado lamb ($43) bursting with the flavors of rosemary and basil. The layer of mustard between the super-soft lamb meat and panko crust adds another dimension (and tang) to this superb dish. The roasted onions are worth noting; a whole onion is roasted for 3 minutes in a 900-degree pizza oven until it chars and caramelizes. It’s phenomenal.
One of the new appetizers is this carpaccio di pesce with Kona kampachi.
This classic Sicilian arancini is dusted with tomato powder.
The agnello in crosta (herb-crusted lamb) with roasted onion is a new entrée at Arancino at the Kāhala.
The newest dessert is this liliko‘i mascarpone cheesecake.
For dessert, the restaurant has added a cheesecake ai frutti tropicali ($13), a lilikoʻi mascarpone cheesecake with a bright citrus sorbetto that is a perfect finish to this decadent meal.
The anniversary menu will be available through summer.
5000 Kāhala Ave., (808) 380-4400, arancino.com/arancino-kahala.
Bring the family down to the Best of Honolulu Festival July 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Honolulu Hale civic grounds. Eat at ‘ono food booths, shop local designers in the marketplace, bring the family to the keiki zone for face painting, balloon animals, rides, games and more. For more information, visit honolulumagazine.com/bestofhonolulu.
READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX