Today was my lucky day – I had two of my most favorite types of Italian food in the world, gnocchi AND risotto! There are not nearly enough Italian restaurants in Hawaii and those that do exist, serve more American-Italian food than traditional Italian. However, we’ve got one little secret on this island and that would be Cafe Sistina.

Conveniently located next to my doctor’s office, you would never stop to think that such a bland building could harbor a super awesome kitchen creating such a wide and well done range of Italian dishes.

And the walls! Look at the wall! It’s like a museum in here. And the coolest part, is that the chef, Sergio Mitrotti, painted it himself. Chef and painter? Now that’s a pretty awesome combo if I do say.

We were given bread to begin, warm slices of baguette very similar to Assagios. The crust is thin and crackly giving way to light soft goodness made even better with a smear of the herb butter melting alllll over.

Steph and I went for the Risotto Bolognese with Wild Mushrooms ($15.75). The warm hearty dish was perfect for today’s rainy weather. Instead of a usual cream based sauce, the risotto was done with meaty and deeply flavored Bolognese. When they said “wild mushrooms” they sure were not kidding. There must have been at least six types of mushrooms, only three which I could recognize by name. The one mushroom that really threw both Steph and I off, was a mucky slimy creature that resembled a slug. Gummy and soft, very very sluggish. I didn’t dislike nor did I like it…I just wish I knew what it was!

Shann’s Gnocchi al Gorgonzola ($15.50) was so good that I think I ate more of her portion than she did. The potato dumpling were right on par, heavenly little puffs of clouds, not at all too chewy in a indulgently rich gorgonzola cheese sauce. The sauce was so good that we asked for extra bread to sop it all up. Cuts of asparagus and fresh tomatoes were key counterparts in saving the dish from being overwhelmingly heavy. Our waitress was attentive without being the least bit intrusive, but the busboy, man was he an interesting character! In a good/quirky way. It’s hard to explain. Go on Monday and maybe you’ll get him and then you will see. But if it’s not on a Monday, go anyways, cause I’m pretty sure this is the only place on Oahu that does gnocchi and risotto – and do them both very well!

Cafe Sistina
1314 King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
(808) 596-0061

  • KirkK
    November 30, -0001

    Hi Kathy – Wow, so Cafe Sistina is still there, after all these years! Did you know that the mural on the back wall stood unfinished for years….there was a story behind that, but I can’t seem to remember.

  • Kathy YL Chan
    November 30, -0001

    Hey Reid!The portions are large! When they set the plate in front of me, I was like, okay, self-control here, stop at the halfway point. But as usual, one bite led to another and I eventually cleared the whole plate :)Hey Chubbypanda!I think gnocchi would make good appetizer food (if we kept it warm)…it’s just way too easy to pop piece after piece in your mouth! hehe :)

  • anonymous
    January 9, 2007

    A friend of mine introduced me to Cafe Sistina. Wonderful! Such an unlikely place to find a restarant, and a gem at that.

  • hellokitty893112
    January 9, 2007

    Man, the food looks delicious! I love risotto! I need to make a plate for myself before classes start.

  • RON
    January 10, 2007

    real mural??

  • Kathy YL Chan
    January 10, 2007

    Hey Ryan!I’ve drive past it for years, but this was my time here…and definitely not the last! Portion sizes are generous too…hehe :)Hey Tina!I need to stop eating risotto and learning how to make some! Have you visited Risotteria on Bleecker before? – I’ve always wanted to give it a try, but there’s so much food in the city that I never got around to it!Hey Kirk!Oooh, I’m intrigued! I’ll have to find out about that. I like how he has all his paints and brushes lying around one corner of the restaurant…don’t know if that was part of the “art” or he really isn’t finished!Hey Ron!I know, isn’t it neato?! :)

  • Reid
    January 10, 2007

    Kathy,I was here several weeks ago and still haven’t done a post on this place. The food here is quite good and yes, the portions are quite large (good for sharing!)Maybe I’ll do it soon…or maybe not. You’ve described it to a T!

  • Chubbypanda
    January 10, 2007

    I feel an Italian food kick coming on. Those gnocchi look like puffs of pillowy perfection.- Chubbypanda

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