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Taormina (Honolulu) first impression

residenthawaii Nov 25, 2007 09:03 PM

It's a relatively new place on the much hyped newly renovated part of Lewers St. It bills itself as a Japanese chef's take on Sicilian cuisine.

The dining room is split between an indoors area and an outdoors glass-enclosed patio, which is where I was seated, and I liked it. The tables are not small and they have tablecloth and cloth napkins. The staff was attentive without being overbearing.

The menu includes an average number of dishes, although it is rather run-of-the-mill and not particularly Sicilian. The pastas are all the kind that requires minimal cooking effort: mostly spaghetti with some sauce; no cannelloni and no lasagna.

Other Italian dishes include a couple of Italian appetizers, and a risotto and involtini as entrees; no ossobucco, no saltimbocca. The rest could be served in almost any place.

I ordered the steamed mussels and the involtini. Both were competently prepared and in portions that a non-football player could comfortably finish, so I enjoyed them. The espresso afterwards was another story: very weak, even though it was very short, as it should be. And $4 to boot. Why upscale Italian restaurants cannot steal someone from Starbucks who knows how to use the expensive imported machines is beyond me.

The wine list is extensive: about 50 Italians, and about 40 Californians and a few French. I'm a by-the-glass guy and I found their prices too high, so I skipped it.

Overall, it was not a very exciting meal. Certainly not a place to warrant going out of your way to be there, but it's conveniently located and it was pleasant and quiet. Will I be back? Probably, but not very soon; they don't have dishes that I cannot wait to try and they don't change the menu that often.