At King's Pizza, pie professionals load each cheesy, 18-inch, Italian-style pizza with unlimited toppings before baking it to gooey perfection in a brick stone oven. More than 17 toppings sink into the melted top layer of King's pizzas, from sausage to capers to fresh organic spinach. Chefs keep side options simple with four hearty sides including mild and spicy hot wings and piping-hot sandwiches wrapping italian meatballs or chicken parmesan. Garden green salads work as both a healthy side and startup material for any vegan clothing line, and cheesy garlic bread helps diners to continue their cheesy, grain-centric feast.
Sergio Mitrotti's various careers have led him to the bottom of the sea as a scuba diver and to the chicest lapels as a clothier, but the Turin, Italy, native has always been one thing above all else: an Italian gourmand. As head chef at Cafe Sistina, Mitrotti infuses his mother’s and grandmother’s traditional Italian recipes with Hawaiian produce and works on his own culinary legacy by putting innovative spins on the classics. His entrees range from traditional linguine puttanesca to shrimp scampi alla vodka with spinach linguini to the modern, spicy tutto mare—risotto topped with spicy opakapaka, calamari, and shellfish. Wines from Italy and the United States complement each dish in the colorful dining room, where every surface—from walls to ceiling—is painted with a colorful reproduction of a famous mural, including Michelangelo's The Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden and The Creation of man.
Sarento's Top of the Ilikai serves fine Italian food amid a breathtaking view of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, and the Honolulu skyline. Winner of the Hawaii Hell's Kitchen challenge, chef Maka Kwon employs his top cooking chops to craft a menu that can begin with manila clams basking in white wine-parmigiano broth ($12) and tastefully transition into osso buco with saffron risotto and gremolata ($34). Upscale pastas include tagliatelle ai funghi, featuring mushrooms roving through thickets of hand-cut pasta ($24), and sweet tiger shrimp scampi ($29).
Apartment 3 flaunts the chic side of belly-warming comfort cuisine with its menu of appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and more constructed from as many locally and sustainably sourced ingredients as possible. Share fantasy bocce-ball-team picks while sharing The Yard Sale, a seasonally handpicked myriad of pickled veggies, on-location cured meats, and goat cheese lightly sprinkled with olive oil ($13), or dunk thirsty french fries in a tank of Sriracha ketchup ($7). Meat, vegetable, and white pizzas ($11–$12) sate circular cravings, and the Italian Dog, a mozzarella-dressed meat tube with tomatoes, basil, and balsamic, lubricates the stomach's elaborate system of levers and pulleys ($11).
First-time guests to Baci Bistro might think that co-owner Bill Duval is psychic. On any given night, he greets visitors at the door, addressing most by name. His friendliness is hardly supernatural, though—it's a shared habit between himself and his wait staff: remembering the names of returning guests. Some of the servers have even been stocking their mental rolodexes since the bistro first opened in 1997, when designers first planted the red, puckering-lips logo around the foliage-flanked interior.
Along with the warmth of its employees, Baci Bistro's signature element is freshness. Executive chef and co-owner Reza Azeri stands by the appetizing simplicity of made-to-order meals, prepping sauces that harmonize with pastas instead of masking their flavor. Ravioli remains the house specialty, whether it's stuffed with lobster or the surprise ingredient of the day, and meat entrees decorate veal, pork, chicken, and fish with vegetables and wine sauces. The menu also allows children to mix and match their choices of sauces and noodles rather than forcing them to eat like adults, who enjoy wine sauces and wipe their mouths with business cards.