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Sunday, July 22, 2012

LA CUCINA RISTORANTE ITALIANA

LA CUCINA RISTORANTE ITALIANA
HONOLULU, HAWAII


LA CUCINA RISTORANTE ITALIANA
IMPERIAL PLAZA BUILDING
725 KAPIOLANI BLVD, SUITE C112
HONOLULU, HAWAII  96813
808-593-2626
HOURS: Monday thru Thursday 5:30 AM - 9:30 PM
                Tuesday thru Friday 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
                Friday and Saturday 5:30 PM - 10:00 PM

Living your dream.  At a time when Americans are being told that they cannot build a business and that our personal success is not a result of hard work and dedication but rather the help of government,  it is refreshing to see yet another example of young entrepreneurs taking a risk to start a new business and succeed.  Perhaps the American Dream is still alive in Honolulu.  Chef Don Truong and his girlfriend, both former employees of Italian Restaurant Mediteraneo in Honolulu took a leap of faith three months ago and ventured into their first restaurant business together.  Don runs the kitchen and his girlfriend (wish I got her name) efficiently handles everything else with a huge smile and total coolness.  One woman is the hostess, bus person, waitress, wine steward, barista and cashier.  Amazing how she pulls it off with such class and modesty.  We called a week in advance to reserve a Saturday night reservation and told that they cannot take reservations for parties of less than four people.  Since we had  only three people my wife pleaded for the table.  A rare exception was made and we were told to arrive at 6:00 pm sharp the following Saturday.  The gal on the phone (the girlfriend again) politely asked if we had to make a plane flight, movie or any other event after dinner.  She said that everything is made fresh and there often can be a wait and did not want to rush us.  This was nice.  Lay it out front that the dining times can be long.  I liked this.  We arrived on time on Saturday and were very surprised to find the restaurant in the commercial section of a high rise condominium off Kapiolani Boulevard.  The restaurant is small and has a bar that seats maybe four people.  The girlfriend greets you, brings you the water and bread and takes your order.  All the time, she is greeting new customers and running food to other tables.  As new patrons arrive without a reservation, they are told with that big smile that they cannot accommodate them on this evening.  The girlfriend ( I hate calling her this) knows how many customers they can handle and effectively limits the number of guests to keep things moving at a pace that Chef Don can handle efficiently.  When our order was taken we were told that the appetizers would come out quickly but be prepared to wait a bit for the entrees.  Again with that big smile and calm attitude.  Fresh baked bread and a dish filled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar was placed on the table.  The olive oil and balsamic was kicked up a notch with fresh herbs and crushed red pepper.  This added another dimension of flavor that we all liked.  The Antipasto Platter ($16) was fresh and delicious.  Loved the marinated mini asparagus, cheese and meats.  The Mozzarella balls disappeared into an eleven year olds stomach in the blink of an eye.  Ordered a Seafood Salad for the table and it was big enough to share with everyone.  Filled with Calamari, Mussels, Fish, Clams and Shrimp.  The salad got really good when you got to the bottom and found small pieces of seafood mixed in with the dressing and fresh herbs.  Light and delicious.  The Crostini with Tomatoes appetizer was so fresh that the tomato popped in your mouth.  The Tagliolini Aragosta ($19) was a huge plate of fresh made pasta topped with chunks of lobster in a olive oil, caper, white wine and light tomato sauce.  Loved the fresh pasta.  The lobster was a bit chewy and lacked a lot of flavor.  I liked the sauce but wanted more of it on the pasta.  The Trenette Bolognese ($17) was delicious.  Ground Veal, Pork and Beef slowly cooked and served in a light tomato sauce.  Again unreal fresh pasta with great flavor.  Just wanted more of the sauce on the plate.  The Fruti De Mari ($19) with mussels, clams, fish, calamari and shrimp was again very light on the sauce.  These are all really good pasta dishes.  Very large portions.  Not one of us finished the plate.  We all enjoyed our dinner experience at La Cucina.  This is a gem of a restaurant that is already starting to see a cult following.  I have a friend that comes once a week and arrives exactly at 5:15 so he can get a table for two.  Any waitress or potential waitress or restaurant owner should pay a visit to see "the girlfriend" in action.  She puts on a clinic on how to run a restaurant right while her other half works tirelessly in the kitchen to keep things fresh, homemade and sent out to his high standards.  No corners are cut here to get you in and out quickly.  The owners seem to just want to do things right and serve the best food possible.  A recipe for success that I hope continues for a long time.

SMALL DOOR OPENS TO BIG FLAVORS
THIS IS A SMALL RESTAURANT THAT SEATS ABOUT 25 PEOPLE
SIMPLE DECOR MAKES THE SPACE WARM
AND VERY COMFORTABLE
LA CUCINA MENU WILL BE VERY POPULAR IN HONOLULU
MENU FEATURES LOTS OF HOME MADE PASTA DISHES
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
RAVIOLI, GNOCCHI AND SPECIALTIES 
RISOTTO DISHES LOOK AMAZING
WATER SERVED COLD AND IN NICE JUGS
FRESH BAKED BREAD WITH OIL AND BALSAMIC
OIL AND BALSAMIC WITH FRESH HERBS AND CRUSHED RED PEPPER
BREAD AND WINE TO START THE EVENING
ANTIPASTO PLATTER
MY DAUGHTER WRAPPED THE SALAMI WITH SMOKED
GOUDA AND MARINATED ASPARAGUS
SEAFOOD SALAD
CROSTINI WITH TOMATOES
TAGLIOLINI ARAGOSTA
PASTA WITH LOBSTER WITH OLIVE OIL, GARLIC, WHITE
WINE AND LIGHT TOMATO SAUCE
TRENETTE BOLOGNESE
GROUND VEAL, PORK AND BEEF SLOWLY COOKED
IN A VERY LIGHT TOMATO SAUCE
FRESH MADE PASTA SETS LA CUCINA APART
THE BOSS TAKES IT ALL IN - YUMMY!
FRUTI DE MARE
FRESH PASTA WITH CLAMS, FISH, MUSSELS AND CALAMARI
LIGHT MANGO SORBET ENDED THE EVENING

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