A Taste Of Italy In Old Koloa Town

Pizzetta general manager Miguel Balderas serves
Bruce and Magda Armstrong

My folks were here for a visit, so my husband Dan and I thought a trip to Old Koloa Town would be a nice way to spend a leisurely afternoon. An idyllic day in paradise blended seamlessly with charming Old Koloa Town, creating a peaceful setting. The quaint, restored plantation building, home to unique shops and lined with giant monkeypod trees, had tourists and locals buzzing among the clapboard storefronts.

Pizza Paradiso is loaded with pesto, grilled chicken and fire-roasted vegetables topped with feta cheese

We were hungry and Pizzetta was our destination. Old Koloa Town’s charm extended into Pizzetta’s Italian-themed restaurant. We chose to sit on the lanai, where banana trees, an herb garden, taro, flowers and foliage rustled in the trade winds, inviting the outside in, while vintage Hawaiian music from the 1940s and ’50s played on the sound system.

Growing up in Italy, Pizzetta’s chef and owner Cathy Shine owned and operated a small restaurant there before moving to Kaua’i. Shine created the recipes and menu and opened Pizzetta 11 years ago. Currently, she is in Italy tending to her mother.

General manager Miguel Balderas is taking care of business in her absence. “Everything is made fresh from scratch: the sauce, pizza dough, dressings – everything is fresh,” he says.

The scene outside Pizzetta in charming Old Koloa Town

Promised a “taste of Italy in Hawaii,” we ordered based on Miguel’s recommendations.

Server Kiare Alejandro brings out our appetizers along with a big smile and good cheer.

The BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs ($8.95) were featured in Bon Appetit magazine – a generous portion of slow-cooked pork in a homemade papaya barbecue sauce with a spicy kick. These were Dan’s clear favorite. Licking the tangy sauce off his fingers, he said, “These have an intensity of flavor that I have not savored since ribs in the deep South!”

Mom’s favorite was the Fettuccine Lucia ($13.95) – tender pasta tossed in olive oil, fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan and feta cheeses topped with sliced chicken. The creamy dish had Mom going back for seconds. Dad, wanting a taste, got his hand slapped as Mom chided him, “Don’t rush me, it’s too good!”

Dad was all right with that, since his favorite was the Pizza Paradiso. A thin and chewy crust loaded with pesto, grilled chicken, fire-roasted vegetables and topped with feta cheese. Sinking your teeth into the pie, your mouth is met with a creamy and savory bite, causing you to exhale in relaxed comfort.

Fettuccine Lucia

My favorite was the Ono Milanese ($17.95) – two Parmesan-crusted ono fillets sitting atop dainty julienne-cut zucchini and carrots sauteed until crisp-tender with two scoops of garlic mashed potatoes. The crowning glory was a delectable lemon-caper cream sauce that draped the fillets. My dad is not a fish lover, but declared, “I could eat that!”

Koloa Town residents know Pizzetta to be a sports bar. “We have the best deals for happy hour on the island,” Miguel states proudly. The daily happy hour includes all appetizers at half price, most draft beer is $2.50 and pizza by the slice is $1.99. Miguel says Pizzetta always offers a 10 percent kama’aina discount, but in the month of October a special 25 percent discount is offered for patrons coming in between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m.

I ask Dad, a picky eater, how he liked his meal.

“Oh yeah, I’d come back!” he says with a big smile.

Pizzetta 5408 Koloa Road For delivery: 742-8881 Open every day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Happy Hour daily from 3 to 6 p.m. pizzettarestaurant.com

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