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No place like ‘Pasta’

If it’s lunch you’re after, and you’re looking for a place that’s friendly and fast and serves great salads with smiles, allow me to recommend a pleasant place in Lihue: Kauai Pasta Lihue.

How would I know this?

Well, since it’s right across the street from The Garden Island, I have had lunch at this Italian grill and bar often. Probably more than my fair share. It’s great spot to have a conversation, feel like you’re right at home, at affordable prices. Kauai Pasta Lihue does it right. Clean and bright, nice and relaxing. Perhaps this is what it’s like when visiting Italy.

Having the busy traffic on Kuhio Highway right outside the front door is somehow not noticeable. It’s actually even nice to have a window seat and watch people pass by.

You don’t have an ocean view. You won’t feel tradewinds. You won’t hear waves crashing on share. You won’t see palm trees swaying. What you will see, hear and taste at Kauai Pasta will make you glad you stopped in.

Now, it’s not like I’ve sampled everything they offer. My go-to lunch, which I order 95 percent of the time, is the Classic Caeser. At $8.95, it’s likely one of the best salads around. Did I mention fast service? When I ordered a Classic Caesar on Wednesday while having lunch, it arrived at our table, probably within 5 minutes. It never fails to impress. It comes with homemade dressing, romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and croutons. Not too heavy on the Parmesan, light touch with the dressing, fresh lettuce. The ideal meal when you need to eat, talk and recharge for an afternoon at work.

You can add shrimp or chicken, but I rarely do, as the salad alone is more than enough for lunch.

Some of the other salads include: Kailani Field Greens, $8.95, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, balsamic vinaigrette; KP Lihue’s House Salad, $9.95, feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and balsamic vinaigrette; the spinach salad, $9.95, fresh pears, blue cheese, candied pecans, raspberry vinaigrette; Kunana Farms warm goat cheese and arugula salad, $10.95, tomateos, Kailanai farms arugula, and red wine vinaigrette; and finally, the garlic herb grilled portabello mushroom salad, $11.95, greens, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and balsamic vinaigrette.

If it’s more than salad you want, KP Lihue has you covered.

Some of the entrees include: chicken Parmesan, $17.95, marinara and Parmesan with your choice of side pasta; roasted ham and caramelized onion panini, $12.95; pesto grilled chicken, $17.95, capellini pomodoro, $16.95 and Greek style pasta, $17.95.

I’m big on drinking water for lunch and they keep the water glass full. Every few minutes, someone, waitress, host, the cook, is filling the water glass. You will not go thirsty here.

If there are a few things to nitpick about, the tables are fairly close together, so when it’s busy, it can get loud and isn’t the best place for an interview. Or at least wait until after the lunch rush.

If you park in the front of the restaurant, it means you have to back up into the traffic. Be careful.

But the real reason to stop at Kauai Pasta is exactly what you want when you go out to eat. Friendly and fast, they greet you coming and going. In the nearly five years I’ve been eating there, the service has never faltered. The food, always fresh and prepared just right, is delivered promptly. You won’t find yourself looking at your watch wondering where your meal is.

And despite the closeness of the tables, it has an open, inviting vibe. Plan for extra time because if you’re a local, you’re bound to run into someone you know here and end up talking story, because this is one of the places frequented by locals because they know how good it is.

KP Lihue is at 3-3142 Kuhio Highway. Phone is 245-2227

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