The Artistry Of Café Sistina

Jo McGarry
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Friday - September 02, 2005
| | podcast Podcast |

Sergio Mitrotti holding and standing
in front of his works of art

While thousands of you are heading out to Aloha Stadium this weekend to begin the tailgating season, there will still be thousands more looking for somewhere special to eat. Finding the right restaurant to celebrate a special occasion can be tricky. You need ambience that suits the mood, a menu that pleases the palate and a price point that makes you comfortable — not always easy to find in one place.

At Café Sistina, there’s all of the above, and more.

Owner Sergio Mitrotti has been painting the walls of his King Street restaurant — their images copied from Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel — for more than a decade. If you are a regular customer you will have seen the evolution of his art as it appears and disappears from the walls. From the paintings and the food you get a real sense of this man’s passion for his work — and for life.

Hawaii has dozens of Italian restaurants. Add to them the number of American, Chinese and contemporary restaurants that have Italian dishes on the menu and there are hundreds. But you can count on one hand the number of Italian restaurants in Honolulu that are owned by Italian chefs. These are the places we should go when we want to taste food that is not just "Italian," but regional, generational and inspirational. Almost anyone can make spaghetti sauce. But who can make a true puttanesca, vivid and vibrant with depth and character? The amateur cook can make a pleasant eggplant Parmesan, but who can create Caprese di Melanzane, born of a family recipe that calls for eggplant to be marinated a whole year?  Any student can make sausage and peppers,  but where can you find homemade gnocchi lamb sausages sautéed with porcini mushrooms?

You can find them at the table of a cook who knows his heritage and who understands his country.

Café  Sistina is unpretentious and has the buzz of a restaurant where people go to talk and eat. Sit at the bar and enjoy Italian wines, or take a table and choose from the dozens of dishes that come from Sergio’s family. There are recipes from his grandmother, his mother and himself — the ones he calls the "new generation."

This is good,  innovative Northern Italian cuisine. If it’s not on your list of best restaurants in Honolulu, then add it now.

Café Sistina

1314 S. King St.

(First Interstate Building)

596-0061 Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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