Wine parties with a view at Longhi’s

Jo McGarry
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Friday - May 25, 2007
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Longhi’s manager Mary Ann Bowman
Longhi’s manager Mary Ann Bowman

I liked Longhi’s at Ala Moana Center the moment I stepped out of the elevator and onto that famous black-and-white floor. My first trip there was four years ago, about a week before the restaurant was due to open, and, as I chatted with owner Bob Longhi I watched a steady stream of locally grown fruits and vegetables being carried into the kitchen.

Today, the restaurant has won awards for its impressive wine list and Mediterranean-inspired menu, and it has become a popular place for lunch, pau hana cocktails, live music, wine parties and dinner.

But perhaps my favorite time at Longhi’s is at breakfast, when the sun is warming up Ala Moana Beach Park and the smell of freshly baked bread and pastries weaves from the kitchen and fills the second-floor dining room.

Breakfast at Longhi’s was once a fairly quiet affair.You could enjoy freshly made eggs Benedict, freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade waffles and pancakes in a relaxing atmosphere overlooking the ocean. Nothing’s changed really - except the number of people who’ve discovered how good it is.

“Regular customers always told us that they didn’t want the secret to get out,“says manager Mary Ann Bowman of the popular breakfast menu that includes lobster Benedict, fluffy waffles with fresh fruit, and perfect eggs done in almost any style.

Longhi’s Mediterranean-inspired menu includes everything from pasta specials to fresh island fish — and asparagus
Longhi’s Mediterranean-inspired menu includes everything from pasta
specials to fresh island fish — and asparagus

You probably should know before you go that Longhi’s is not inexpensive, but whether you’re there for an early morning meeting, lunch with a friend or pau hana cocktails, you’ll see that there’s quality in everything that’s served. A Mediterranean-inspired menu at heart, Longhi’s serves everything from pasta specials to fresh island fish, grilled steaks, shrimp, lobster, a variety of seafood dishes, lamb and chicken, as well as a variety of salads and great desserts.

But perhaps the best way to get acquainted with the restaurant - if you haven’t already been - is to go to one of the wine parties. Other restaurants call them wine tastings or dinner; Longhi’s just throws a party. For just $25, guests enjoy a flight of wines (with usually a complimentary glass of sparkling wine) as they listen to the music of the Honolulu String Quartet.

They always sell out, and as Bowman says, “The wine parties are fun and a great way to meet new people and discover some new wines.“Coming up June 5, the wine tasting will explore the grape varietal, Syrah.“We’re calling it Que Sera Syrah,” says Mary Ann. “Guests can enjoy an appetizer platter as well as the wines, and some classical music.”

If you don’t make the party, then catch James Kraft on Wednesdays and Thursdays through the summer, or check out any of the live weekend bands that play late night.

Longhi’s 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 3001 947-9899

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