Auntie Pasto’s has been a fixture on Beretania Street for as long as I can remember. The Italian restaurant’s faded red roof and green trimming show signs of its age. But beyond the dull colors, Auntie Pasto’s has been making an attempt to break out of its “hole-in-the-wall” shell and into an eatery of choice on Oahu.

It took me long enough, but I finally got a chance to try out Auntie Pasto’s recently. My friends and I decided to celebrate belated birthdays over Italian cuisine…(and $3 glasses of chardonnay.)

I liked what I saw as soon as we walked in through the roadside entrance. Quaint tables dimly-lit by candles filled the tiny restaurant, which didn’t seem as tiny since the glass window walls gave it some pseudo size. A light orange glow from the surrounding cross-streets poured in through those windows; the sounds of motorists passing by muted.

But it was the delicious aroma of an olive oil/garlic mixture and fresh bread baking that really drew me in. It was coming from the kitchen, which was at the center of the restaurant and blocked off by four-foot-high wooden panels. The cooks and servers moved about quickly, while a cloud of steam rose to the ceiling.

If I could base my review solely on the wonderfully welcoming ambiance and spot-on service, Auntie Pasto’s would get five stars. Instead, I’d give it three stars because the food turned out to be a little disappointing. The creamy pesto pasta was nothing close to pesto. It was spaghetti noodles drowned in a bowl of olive oil. The mozzarella sticks seemed to be lacking in the main ingredient, since it was mostly fried batter and barely any cheese.

Because I didn’t really eat my meal, I not surprisingly had room for dessert. We tried the tiramisu, and I’m glad we did because that made up for the disappointing food. If you know me, I’m obsessed with tiramisu. This one was a tiramisu cheesecake and definitely among the top three I’ve ever had. It didn’t have an overwhelming liqueur taste, like some do, nor was it too sweet – thanks to the subtle blend of cheesecake.

I would go back just for the tiramisu and possibly give the menu another try. Just nothing to do with pesto or olive oil. Next time, I’ll play it safe and get spaghetti with meatballs.

AUNTIE PASTO’S • 1099 S. Beretania St., Honolulu, HI 96814 • Opens Mon-Thurs 11am-1030pm, Fri 11am-11pm, Sat 4pm-11pm, Sun 4pm-1030pm • www.auntiepastosberetania.com • Metered street parking

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