With only a tiny sprinkling of restaurants celebrating true Italian regional cooking, Italian-American establishments reign here on Oahu. An Italian foodie myself, I'm not particularly enthusiastic about the Americanized version of the cuisine, which is probably due to bad childhood memories of watery marinara and cloying Alfredo sauce. About six years ago, when my stepfather first took us to this little place in Pearl Kai, my eyes were opened. The exuberant manager Barbara Hokama later explained that most of the ingredients and concepts of menu items were really from Italy. Ricado's has since expanded its dining room to more than twice its original size, allowing itself to be even more of a comfortable family-friendly yet still romantic restaurant. Let me tell you, they know what they're doing back there in the kitchen. Chef Richard Qin offers a vast array of appetizers, among them a dish of especially good and crispy calamari served with marinara. Caesar salad is wonderfully anchovy-intensive and the house creamy dressing that coats crisp ice-cold romaine is tangy and slightly sweet. An Italian Salad with that house dressing, salami, olives, roasted peppers, and crumbled cheese for only $3.90? Fantasticalthough you might have to search for a while for those ""roasted peppers,"" which really translates onto the plate as A tiny piece of pepper. Tender seasonal vegetables in a light, flavorful broth with a handful of baby spinach makes for a comforting little bowl of minestrone. Even simple, healthy pasta dishes like arrabbiata and primavera are covered with tomato sauces packed with so much flavor that you can feel good after eating them and have a satisfied palate. A personal favorite is pollo alla broccoli, with always-moist chicken breast, al dente broccoli, mushrooms, and bacon in a marvelous creamy tomato sauce. Have the creamy, rich cheesecake or a scoop of smooth icy sorbet for dessert...if you saved room.
Pros: Outstanding ItalAmerican food, friendly service, great ambience
Cons: Horrendous parking, slow on weekends and Wednesdays