The Garlic Shrimp and Local Arugula Strozzapreti (left) and the Boquerones pizza (right). ©Kristen Nemoto Jay
If there's one thing I've learned after studying abroad in Italy for a semester during my senior year in college—besides how to say swear words in Italian or how to cook perfect al dente spaghetti—it's the fact that there are so many pizza places to choose from throughout the country. Go figure. Second thing I learned? Those who were authentic and creative grabbed my attention and became the cause for my expanded waistline.
The open-air kitchen space at Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar (Courtesy Media Etc.)
Fast forward 13 years later and I've finally found a place that exceeds my expectations in a perfectly crafted piece of pie. What's even greater news is the fact that I don't have to travel half way around the world just to enjoy memories of my youth again. Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar, located in the OHANA Waikiki East hotel, is the spot to enjoy their rich and flavorful slices of heaven. This 5,543 square-foot open-aired venue welcomed me into the space and I was immediately drawn to its modern yet rustic decor. Behind the bar and throughout the kitchen area is a cohesive line up of white tiles, which emphasizes the highlighted liquors to choose from at the bar and the large open kitchen space in the back. There's a large wooden table that lines the middle of the restaurant downstairs, that's surrounded by dark wooden chairs. White leather booth sections outline the downstairs area, and compliments the coloring of the cream-colored ceiling and mini light fixtures. Walk upstairs to another section of the restaurant and there's various circular tables to choose from with booths the right, the kitchen in the middle back and a private space to the left. These various sections provide differing dining experiences such as cocktail hour at the wine bar, a Parisian-like atmosphere street-side or a private space for an intimate dinner for two.
The Prosciutto pizza (Courtesy Media Etc.)
Then there's the food, of course, that ranges in Italian influences such as octopus ceviche and insalata caprese to Asian-inspired flavors of the Korean Yakiniku pizza (made with tomato sauce, marinated grilled beef, mozzarella cheese, kimchee, Gochujang mayo and Tokyo negi) and Appetito matcha tiramisu (layers of lady fingers, mascarpone cheese and red beans topped with matcha powder). Their pizzas are made with Caputo flour, which is imported directly from Naples, Italy, and made-to-order in Appetito's kiawe wood oven. Fired up at a whopping 900-degrees, each pizza is cooked within 90 seconds with results of a pillowy yet crunchy crust edge underneath a blanket of various flavors that Chef Hiroyuki "Hiro" Mimura made up himself. His career experience has spanned from Japan and ultimately in Florence, Italy, where he worked in various fine dining restaurants.
The 900-degree Fahrenheit kiawe oven (Courtesy Media Etc.)
For those pizza lovers out there, here is a list of all the pies to look forward to when you visit (prices subject to change):
Margherita ($15)—Tomato sauce, mozzarella, grana padano cheese and fresh basil.
Prosciutto ($21)—Tomato sauce, mozzarella, local arugula and shaved grana padano cheese.
Quattro Formaggi ($18)—Cream sauce with gorgonzola mozzarella, ricotta and grana padano cheese, served with local honey.
Salsiccia and Kale ($17)—Tomato sauce, kale, cremini mushroom and sausage.
Boquerones ($16)—Tomato sauce, mozzarella, roasted red bell pepper, white anchovy and Italian parsley.
Funghi ($25)—Porcini cream, ali'i, shitake and cremini mushrooms with truffle oil, mozzarella cheese and fresh thyme.
Italian Salami ($18)—Tomato sauce, calabrese salami, mozzarella cheese, button mushroom and fresh basil.
Shrimp Pesto ($19)—Basil pesto sauce, shrimp, mozzarella, grape tomatoes and olives.
King Crab Shishitou ($24)—Cream sauce, crabmeat, avocado, shishitou peppers and arugula fizzled with wasabi mayonnaise.
Smoked Salmon ($25)—New Zealand smoked salmon, sour cream, red onion and salmon roe, finished with fresh dill.
Korean Yakiniku ($19)—Tomato sauce, marinated grilled beef, mozzarella cheese, kimchee, Gochujang mayo, and Tokyo negi.
Chicken and Spicy Green Curry ($16)—Green curry sauce, grilled chicken breast, mozzarella, eggplant and basil.
Roasted Vegetable ($15)—Tomato sauce, mozzarella eggplant, zucchini, crimini mushroms, and local arugula drizzled with pesto.
Don't forget the rest of the menu, which includes breakfast options, appetizers, pasta dishes, grilled meats and oh-so-yummy desserts (did I mention the butterscotch buddino? It's butterscotch pudding that's topped with dark rum caramel sauce and pecans.)
Located at the OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger (Courtesy Media Etc.)
Validated self-parking is available at OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger. Restaurant hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Breakfast is held from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.; lunch is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; happy hour is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and dinner is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Located at 150 Kaiulani Ave., Honolulu, 96815. For more information, go to appetitowaikiki.com.