First Look: Dean & DeLuca in Waikīkī

The New York-based upscale market is serving its cured meats, cheeses and gourmet foods in Hawai‘i now.
Known for its selection of gourmet meats and cheeses, Dean & DeLuca is now in Hawai‘i. The upscale market opened last month in the Ritz-Carlton in Waikīkī.
Photos: James Charisma


Dean & DeLuca has long been a haven for New York City foodies, a warm and inviting gourmet grocery that smells like bread, where specialty meats and cheeses are available by the pound, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, pastries, wine, gifts and candies.


Now, local residents can also enjoy a stop to a Dean & DeLuca as of Sept. 14. Making its Hawai‘i debut, the internationally recognized brand has a new home at the Ritz-Carlton in Waikīkī, with a ground-floor market and second-floor wine bar and café.


This new location isn’t as sprawling as its East Coast counterparts (this is the chain’s 11th location), but the layout and selection is derived from the usual Dean & DeLuca model, truncated for Waikīkī: chilled assorted soft drinks and beers along the wall, large deli cases offering a mix of cold and hot entrees, as well as desserts and baked goods, and branded snacks, candies and merchandise—including the very popular tote bags ($29)—stacked high on commercial kitchen racks. There’s also a companion table offering local goods, such as those produced by Kāhala Fresh, Maui Fruit Jewels and Island Essence.


The first-floor entrees are a mix of local dishes and upscale Mainland fare; behind the counter, the “loup chong” sausage fried rice sits next to the quinoa salad with cranberries, marinated roasted beets and the obligatory roasted fingerling potatoes. To Dean & DeLuca’s credit, its spicy octopus poke ($15 a pound) is great. Fresh but not fishy or overly chewy, and the spicy ‘ahi-style sauce is right on the money. Other selections, such as grilled rib eye, pork tenderloin and beef rib roast go well above and beyond your traditional deli counter.


“The deli sandwiches have been very popular. We’ll get people in the door right when we open at 7 a.m. for a breakfast sandwich,” says general manager Luke Blubaugh, on a walkthrough of the shop. Dean & DeLuca offers more than a half-dozen sandwiches, including egg and cheese on croissant, chicken and avocado on a roll, prime rib and mushroom wrap, and kālua pork on baguette, each ranging from $8 to $12.


Under the dome on the other side of the store, the market has locally sourced its wide selection of cakes, pies, muffins, bagels, breads and pastries from This is It! Bakery, La Tour Café and Cake Works. Selections such as a chocolate hazelnut and raspberry matcha cake, New York cheesecake, lemon meringue eclaire, tiramisu, green tea-ramisu, and lemon berry misu (love the names), will all be cleared out before the end of the day, says a woman behind the counter, all 30-something different items stacked across three tiers. The coffees, a mix of hot and iced espressos, mochas, chai lattes and even frappes, will also be thoroughly exhausted. For non-coffee-drinkers, D&D offers tea, hot chocolate, and Hawaiian soda made with local syrups. Today’s flavor was pineapple and chipotle, a sweet and refreshing soft drink with a bit of spice.


There’s an upstairs here too, accessible from an elevator and stairs at the back of the store, which leads to Dean & DeLuca’s wine, meat and cheese counters as well as chic lounge seating. This is where the store serves prepared dishes that include various paninis ($12 to $16) including prosciutto, soppressata, mozzarella, fontina, gouda, basil pesto, tomato and sage, as well as bruschetta (3 for $14, 5 for $24 or 7 for $35) topped with ricotta, local brie, and goat cheese from Sweet Land Farm in Waialua.


SEE ALSO: Farm Friday: Visiting Sweet Land Farm in Waialua


The selection of cheeses includes mascarpone, pecorino and mozzarella, as well as bruschetta topped with ricotta, local brie, and goat cheese from Sweet Land Farm in Waialua.


There’s also a wide array of gourmet prepared foods, perfect for dinner on the go.


Dean & DeLuca’s local executive chef is Johan Svensson, from BLT Steak, who has designed the menu. “Great to have him,” says Blubaugh. “Not just because he knows about the ingredients we offer and because he’s designed the food, but also because he knows Hawai‘i. If we’re running low from supplies that are only available on, let’s say, Maui, he knows how many days it’ll take to get here and when to order.”


Svensson’s menu items serve as a sampling for the meats and cheeses on display; the sliced charcuterie and cheese platter ($16), featuring prosciutto, coppa, chorizo, salami, Humboldt Fog goat cheese, double cream brie, bruschetta and fig spread, are all available in the store (and exceptional), and the mushroom panini ($12) tasted light but satisfying. Some guests, says Blubaugh, know what each of the charcuterie and cheese offerings are and will pick out their favorites while others try new things. Other items observed in the deli case include smoked salmon, quail eggs and white sturgeon caviar ($125 for a one-ounce jar). Dean & DeLuca also offers a wide selection of wines, by the bottle or the glass.


A sampling of cured meats and cheeses from Dean & DeLuca.


Think of Dean & DeLuca as your Whole Foods or R. Field, but on Kalākaua Avenue. Not necessarily for stocking up on a week’s supply of food, but as a place to pop in for something right now. Pick up a sandwich, some couscous or potato salad, a few drinks and pack a picnic for the beach. Or a bottle of wine and some cheeses for a night in at your hotel or at home. Or a breakfast pastry or croissant on your way to work in the morning. It’s for those who find themselves in Waikīkī, not necessarily as a destination to bring you into the neighborhood (not the least of which because you’ll need a minimum purchase of 30 bucks to qualify for validated parking at the Ritz-Carlton). And if you’re visiting Dean & DeLuca because you live in one of the new upscale condos in Waikīkī, the price probably isn’t a factor either way.


For the rest of us, Dean & DeLuca is intended as a quick stop in passing. If you were in New York City, you’d stop by in a hurry: before work or after work or just to escape the blistering winter cold or searing summer heat. In Hawai‘i, it’s a chill place to go before the beach. Yes, the 20-month prosciutto is $33 a pound, but you’re not buying the whole thing, just a few slices for a couple of bucks. Items at Dean & DeLuca are enjoyed like a fine wine: in small, savory sips. Not a big gulp. We have 7-Eleven for that.


Dean & DeLuca, 383 Kalaimoku St.,