Get a taste of Italy — on the Westside of Kauai.
Italian restaurant, Kauai Pasta West, recently opened in Eleele for fine dining in a casual atmosphere. It was founded by local chef and owner of Kauai Pasta Lihue, Russell Stokes, who grew up on the Eastside and overseas both restaurant operations.
His Kauai Pasta restaurant in Lihue, which began in 2006, was so successful that he decide to create a Westside location.
“I’ve been thinking about opening a second location for quite some time,” Stokes said. “I’ve opened my restaurants for local people, not for tourists. So with that in mind, I had to look for the right location.”
Stokes started working and training with chef Roy Yamaguchi when he was 19 years old. He worked for 10 years at Roy’s Poipu Restaurant and became executive chef.
“It was a really good experience, basically like getting paid to go to school,” Stokes said. “They wanted me to take over the old Roy’s location, and I’m not so sure if it would have worked to have my concept there and keep my prices the same for local people.”
For years, he had been trying to find the perfect location for local residents. Then he finally recognized the potential of a building next to the Eleele shopping center that contains Longs Drugs and Big Save Market.
“We absolutely overhauled the space,” Stokes said. “It looks like it’s just a night-and-day difference as far as the decor and how it looks and feels.”
The inside of the new restaurant is 3,200 square feet with about half taken up by the decorated dining room and stocked bar with beer, wine and liquor. The other half features a fully equipped kitchen that houses a new pizza oven.
An additional covered outdoor area is adorned with comfortable couches, fire pit and driftwood centerpiece art. The 800-square-foot patio features a fenced enclosure and subtle lighting for a cozy intimate atmosphere with a small view of the ocean.
“It’s an epic spot to catch the sunset with a glass of wine right before dinner,” Stokes said. “It’s a pretty nice view out there.”
The food menu will feature many of the same classic items as the Lihue location plus some new additions and daily specials.
“We’re currently running four pizzas on the menu, and they’re not your usual,” Stokes said. “They’re a little more fun. They’re not so mainstream style, more Italian style and kinda contemporary.”
The authentic Italian pizzas are purposely not offered in small, medium and large sizes. They’re available in one size that’s made to share or for one person to enjoy.
“We switched a couple of the salads around also, so there’s definitely some new stuff here and some of the same,” Stokes said. “We’re going to be expanding our menu to do a lot more specials now that we’ve gotten things a lot more smooth and rolling.”
The restaurant sources ingredients from as many local farms as possible. They purchase goat cheese from Kauai Kunana Dairy, mushrooms from Lawai Valley Mushrooms and other produce from Kailani Farms and Kauai Fresh Farms.
The restaurant, 469 Waialo Road, employees 30 people and served breakfast for the first time on Feb. 13.
“We’ve been so stoked to open up over here,” Stokes said. “It’s been such a really cool positive response with a lot of excitement for us opening up.”
The first two weeks were incredibly busy.
“At one point we had a line out the door like 20 deep for three hours straight. It was crazy,” Stokes said. “So the support we’ve gotten is just unbelievable.”
Kauai Pasta West will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week and closed on Mondays.
“The vibe here is super nice,” Stokes said. “It’s a great place if you’re going to Koke’e or Polihale for the day to catch us on the way there or on the way back.”