Once a month at Formaggio Grill, guests indulge in four-course meals paired with fine wines. It sounds like a typical dinner party, save one difference: no one can see a thing. The monthly event is called Dining in the Dark, and Formaggio Grill hopes that it will encourage guests to slow down, savor their dinners, and even reconsider their approaches to fine dining.
Even without the blindfolds, Formaggio Grill touts that mission with careful preparation of Mediterranean-style cuisine in a warm, welcoming space. Chefs smoke prime rib over kiawe wood and toss pastas with housemade sausage. Servers are happy to help pair entrees with selections from a list of more than 50 wines from around the world.
The restaurant envelops diners in warm reds and golds, and low light casts plush red stools and a wooden bar in a warm glow. The artwork of Ron Genta adds splashes of color to the walls, and local musicians take to the stage on the weekends to entertain patrons with smooth guitar sounds or the dulcet tones of a whale’s song.
At the boutique wine shop Waikiki Wine Closet, owned and operated by a father and son who hail from the vineyard-speckled land of California, varietals from around the world line the shelves. Coolers are filled with large bottles of craft beers such as Chimay and Duvel, as well as six-packs from the likes of Lagunitas and Hoegaarden. Waikiki Wine Shop also stocks fine spirits, including whiskey and the ghost of Humphrey Bogart.
Featured in Pacific Edge and Go Kailua Magazine for their trailblazing approach to crafting wine, Oeno Winemaking owners Marshall Zeigler and Bryon Crowther offer an eclectic variety of wines made with European techniques, and have recently added beers to their repertoire. The winery hosts wine-sampling sessions, which educate sippers on the nuances of aroma and body while imparting the skills of proper swirling, sniffing, and tasting. Patrons choose their favorite wine or beer, which is handmade and aged for six to eight weeks in a temperature-controlled cellar-type crypt. Customers purchasing barrels return with friends and family for a two-hour bottling event. Amidst their cache of bottles and corks, Oeno also stocks beer-making kits, which include materials for up to five gallons of homebrews.