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You’ve had a busy day shopping at Ala Moana Center, and you’re hungry for a satisfying meal to power-through another round of bargain-hunting. You look around, but only see Food Court eateries and your typical chain restaurants, none of which sound too appealing.
What’s a discerning diner to do?
In about three weeks, you’ll have an entirely new option: A new upscale, yet approachable, eatery located in the Ewa Wing of the shopping center called the Vintage Cave Cafe. It’s a sister-restaurant to the formal Vintage Cave, which opened in 2012 and has become a destination restaurant for high-end clientele, even hosting President Barack Obama and his family (The restaurant also has a “private society” member roster of around 550 customers who have paid either $50,000 or $500,000 to dine at the restaurant.).
The 9,000-square-foot Italian-inspired eatery includes 150 seats and four private rooms, and it serves lunch ($20-$30), afternoon tea ($15-$25) and dinner ($50-$100). The menu will include Wagyu steak, seafood dishes, Milan-style pasta and Napoli-style pizza.
During my tour, I was told the restaurant features three main areas: Food, music, and bar. Although all three sections blend together, it’s clear this is a cohesive restaurant, dominated by good taste. From the full-bar to the grand piano to the dining tables, everything is done first-class. Need proof? I was also directed to a table featuring leather chairs, each of which came from one full cow, so there was uniformity thorughout the fabric.
I recently had the privilege of eating at the restaurant “pre-opening,” and the experience was phenomenal. The restaurant’s design mimics the look of an Italia cathedral, with fresco-painted dome ceilings, murals, painting, and sculptures from Italy and other countries around the world (check out the Four Seasons sculptures toward the back of the restaurant). The restaurant even features ORIGINAL Norman Rockwell drawings, featured in some of the eatery’s private dining rooms.
As for my food? It was extraordinary, start-to-finish. We started with a caprese-style appetizer and creamy lobster bisque (my favorite dish, by the way). Both were extraordinarily fresh and decadent, the perfect start to what would become a fabulous meal. We, then, were treated to a delicate Shrimp Scampi (not too much garlic, grease, or cream) and a “white” FIVE cheese pizza, featuring cheeses, such as mozzarella, parmasean, and gorgonzola. For dessert, we were served a Pumpkin Cheesecake (suitable to the season). Even my husband, who hates pumpkin, devoured the dish only seconds after our server laid it in the center of our table.
The host staff and servers were attentive and knowledgeable. Even pre-opening, they had the rhythm of seasoned restaurant staff. Not a drink was left unfilled or an empty plate left sitting.
As for location, visitors staying at the Ala Moana Hotel have easy access to this delightful eatery. Just walk across the street to Ala Moana Center, and look for Bloomingdales. The Japan Village Walk is right next door, and the entrance to the Vintage Cave Cafe is right around the corner.
In essence, the experience I had at the Vintage Cave Cafe would satisfy any discerning diner, even those who have dined at The Vintage Cave. So, look for the restaurant’s official opening soon. And, make sure you absorb the entire experience like I did!