On a cool and breezy night I wanted the hominess of a simple chicken — nothing Asian, nothing battered and as close to roasted as I could get. Which is why, Friday night last week, I was on my way to Kincaid’s with a friend when we drove by Bellini Bistro at Ward and boom! saw that it had opened.
Bellini is the townside creation of Maile Sengoura of Hawaii Kai’s Maile’s Thai Bistro. Rustic Italian menu, casual upscale vibe, and who, I ask who, can resist a restaurant named Bellini? Cancel the Kincaid’s reservation (it was Friday night) and bring me the bellini menu.
What I like: You can sit outside. I don’t care that this al fresco arrangement fronts Auahi Street across garish, monolithic Pier One, it reminds me of relaxing afternoons and evenings in other, bigger cities, talking and eating in the shade of buildings as people go by and the sky changes colors. I liked the signature bellini, which adds elderflower liqueur and seltzer to the prosecco and white peach puree. I liked that it was $7 at happy hour instead of $12 regular. And I loved my chicken.
Lest you think my chicken simple, it was. A burst of salt on crisped skin, the fragrance of anchovies, soft morsels of garlic. While I was eating, Sengoura and another staffer stopped by to tell me this was their favorite dish. If I could, I’d have it swimming under a mound of tomato-rich pasta; I had mine with fluffy potatoes. I’m still thinking about it.
Bellini opened just last Thursday and has yet to grand-open. You’ll see dishes you might recognize from the style of Assaggio and Paesano, both owned by members of Sengoura’s family, but it’s a more streamlined and slightly more expensive menu. There are twists like an oxtail osso bucco, a full bar and a happy hour (bellini time!) between 3 and 5 p.m.
Bellini Bistro & Bar
1200 Ala Moana Blvd. (Auahi Street side)
Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 4 to 11 p.m.