Great Food, Service, View

By Charlie Longhi
Wednesday - July 01, 2009
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By Charlie Longhi
Owner of Longhi’s - Ala Moana Center

My dad, Bob Longhi, opened the now-iconic Longhi’s in Lahaina in 1976, with a simple philosophy: “Cook with love, eat with passion!” I live those words each and every day here at Longhi’s at Ala Moana Center.

My father traveled around the world, hosted huge parties in Washington, D.C., and he knew what he liked - great food, great service and wonderful atmosphere.

I was 14 when I moved to Maui from Washington, D.C. ,with my dad, and it was love at first sight. I worked at Longhi’s in Lahaina from the age of 15, working in every phase of the restaurant business - from bussing tables and serving guests, to bartending, cooking and managing the restaurant from front to back.

The most important lesson I learned is that quality is the key to success. Although our extensive menu is quite eclectic - offering a wide array of spectacular breakfast, lunch and dinner selections, we are an Italian-based business, using only the finest and freshest ingredients, from local produce and the finest fish and meats, to live Maine lobsters and the highest-quality imported Italian ingredients - Longhi’s will never skimp on quality. Our exquisite food is proof. Portions are also very generous, and our wine list is one of only three restaurants in Hawaii to achieve the acclaimed Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellence.

I moved to Oahu to open and manage our new location at Ala Moana Center in 2003, and it was the best move I have ever made in my life. Oahu gives me the best of both worlds: a great city and beautiful country. The Koolau mountains still amaze me every time I see them.

Owner Charlie Longhi (center) with Longhi’s-Ala Moana managers Mary Ann Bowman and Corey Hanna

On the fourth floor of Ala Moana Center, Longhi’s may be harder to find with only one access through an elevator on the makai side of the Mall Level, close to Sear’s. But, trust me, we are worth the discovery! From the moment you exit the elevators, you will be awestruck by the breath-taking view of Ala Moana Beach Park and the Pacific Ocean, framed by white arches. Our décor is Mediterranean-inspired, with an open-air design, complemented by Longhi’s trademark black and white tiles.

Our friendly staff will greet you upon arrival and take good care of you for the rest of your visit, because this is like welcoming you into our home. Our service is always professional, not pretentious.

The economic crisis is in the headlines daily, and I am fortunate because we have not seen a drastic effect at Longhi’s in Honolulu, where we have a strong local customer base, as well as visitors. Longhi’s reputation keeps us going in good times and bad. We have very loyal local customers, including many “regulars,” and are a “destination” location for visitors. Our Japanese market, in particular, has really been going strong.

We have also become world famous for our exceptional cuisine and celebrity clientele.

Experience Longhi’s and enjoy breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner, or just dessert.

We are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., weekends 7:30 a.m to 10 p.m. Our popular Happy Hour is 4 to 7 p.m. daily at our beautiful koa wood bar, featuring drink specials.

We are also available for private parties, meetings and holiday events for groups of 20 to 250. Each year we have a special 4th of July dinner event, with a wonderful pre fixe menu and the best seats for the fireworks show, $85 to $95 seating. Sells out every year, so make your reservations now at 947-9899.

For relaxation, I play guitar and enjoy jamming with friends in a band we call “Funkaholics.” We play funk, soul and rock ‘n’ roll. I had a record deal with Virgin Records for a couple of years, but the restaurant called me back home.

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