Where Italian benvenuto (welcome) meets aloha

“I have a passion and love for food. I want my energy and aloha to be felt in my dishes. I take it to heart and I am a touch of a perfectionist, you see! Food is an extension of love to other people. We want to nourish, not just feed them.” — Caterina M Shyne, owner of Pizzetta.

True to the sound of her last name, Shyne does shine with excitement and love for what her and her son, John Halter, have created. Since 1999, Pizzeta is one of seven family restaurants between Seattle, Los Angeles and Kauai, owned by Shyne’s family, also owner of Tortilla Republic. I was truly impressed with the energy of this Shyne, who came from her house especially to sit down, have a glass of wine and talk story with me. Being from Europe myself, sitting down with a true Italian was a treat by itself! The warm welcoming aloha she emanated was sure to transfer to her food.

“I wanted a family restaurant with affordable food, not a fancy place,” Shyne said. Pizzetta is located in Old Koloa Town, a warm welcoming place where you can get much more than pizza and pasta.  The Bruschetta ($8.95), an antipasti appetizer, was truly outstanding. The tomatoes (pomodoro- apples of gold) imported from Italy, made all the difference.

“‘Cosa ci metti ci trovi,’ what you put in is what you get, my mother used to say,” Shyne said. “For delicious simplicity, you have to have the best ingredients, so we use the best possible,” she added.

I know when I try the real thing, because the last time I had bruschetta this tasty, was in Italy. Same went with the five different plates, Shyne so generously kept ordering. Between the Italian chop salad ($12.25), ono picatta ($18.50), BBQ baby back pork ribs ($18.50), spaghetti bolognese ($13.25), and fettuccini lucia ($14.75), my taste buds were overwhelmed with the distinctive flavors of different spices the staff grows all organic in their own garden.

My perfect dinner was complete with gelatto (made on Kauai). You can’t go wrong with either of the seemingly countless flavor options you can choose from. Each flavor was strong, berry or mango, the smell and taste of it was that of the real fruit.

“All our sauces, bread, dressing, etc. are made from scratch. We try to accommodate gluten sensitive, organic conscious and other preferences people have, because when coming to the restaurant, we want to treat you like you are coming to our home. Food is a celebration of life and I pride myself with what I get to pass on. It is my son John, his partner Morten Kaag, the best managers Larissa Parraga (M) and Pat Russell (GM), the people in the kitchen and the entire Pizzetta team who is carrying on my legacy. Thank you for making me proud!” Shyne said, passionately ending our visit.

In the beginning of December, in preparation for Christmas, they will be renovating for three days, adding more items on their menu, thus accommodating the tastes of both local and visitor guests.

Pizzetta is open daily form 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and located at 5408 Koloa Road in the center of Old Koloa Town.

Reservations are recommended for parties of 6 or more. You can contact them at 742-8881 or www.pizzettakauai.com


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