Hard to believe, but Longhi’s Ala Moana celebrates 12 years in business this year. Where has the time gone? They have been consistent with their food and drinks throughout the years, and still have one of the more popular happy hours in town. To mark their anniversary, however, owner Charlie Longhi has launched 20 new menu items, some of which were previously secret menu items for insiders. We got to taste a few of them last week.
This isn’t new, but since we were at Longhi’s for happy hour, they gave us their refreshing white sangria to start. Perfect for the hot days we’ve been having.
They gave us two presentations of the grilled Maui Romaine salad, so I’m going with the prettier one. This is drizzled in Italian balsamic reduction and topped with gorgonzola cheese and maple-cured bacon. Yum! If you’ve ever made this on your own grill, you know how the char brings out sweetness in the lettuce that you never knew it had. The balsamic and the bacon bring it out even further.
Now, the prosciutto arugula pizza isn’t new, either, but I wanted to show it to you for your next visit. Having a salad on your pizza is a great idea for getting your veggies in. Charlie said the dough is made with Caputo “00” flour imported from Italy, and it has a nice fluffy-chewy ratio. The topping is pretty brilliant, too, which is why it’s a popular item at happy hour.
Longhi’s uses Italian Carnaroli rice in this dish, cooked in lobster stock, herbs, shallots and white wine. This is topped with petite Manila clams, diced local tomatoes, Italian parsley and parmegiano reggiano. This is great for clam lovers and I loved that they were so tender.
I thought I would show you the two ways Longhi’s serves their lobster gnocchi, just in case. Charlie says they like to serve it with the tail and shell, as depicted above, but when it came to our table it was cut up and mixed in. I know some people like to see the actual tail so they know it’s whole, but for those doing family style, I’d prefer the tail meat mixed in so no one fights. Just saying! Other than that, this dish was definitely a favorite, as the gnocchi was silky and pillowy and the sage butter sauce was decadent and complex. I’d definitely have it again.
The big surprise of the night — another favorite — was the Sicilian cauliflower. At first we thought it was chicken karaage! These savory bites were tender (not mushy) and not greasy at all, despite the parmesan-bread crumb crust and the butter and browned garlic. The capers really pulled everything together. I can’t even describe how good these are — you’ll have to try it yourself. Robert Kukonu, who was sitting next to me, took some of the capers and put them on his lobster gnocchi, which was also a brilliant move.
Breakfast for dinner! Longhi’s has added a prime rib beef patty for their loco moco at breakfast and lunch for $18; you get a five-ounce filet mignon for $36 at dinner. This is all on a bed of mushroom risotto, caramelized onions, and peppercorn demiglace. Very decadent! This is something I would have to share with at least one other person.
The Japanese pancake craze is at every breakfast spot on Oahu, but to make Longhi’s offerings stand out, Charlie put an Italian twist on it. The tiramisu pancakes feature three flapjacks layered with espresso Kahlua marscapone, then drizzled with chocolate sauce. The pancakes looked like they would be dense, but they were actually fluffy, which makes it a nice option any time of day that won’t weigh you down.
To see the entire menu, click here.
Longhi’s Ala Moana
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.