Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bernini Honolulu launches summer menu

Nadine Kam photos
A dish of Kahuku corn risotto with shaved truffle is one of the hits on Bernini Honolulu’s new summer menu.

Ever wonder why you’re less hungry during summer?

Chalk it up to the thermic effect of food. The body’s reaction to heat is identical to its response to fever.

Years ago, I interviewed nutrition consultant Dr. Joannie Dobbs, who said, “When you have a fever, you don’t feel like eating because the body is doing what it can to keep your temperature down.”

Blood is directed to the stomach and digestive area as you eat, so the body is not able to radiate heat.

“When you eat, your metabolism increases and the body has to work harder to get rid of the excess heat,” she said. To regulate body temperature, appetite is suppressed.

On a cellular level, the body knows what it needs to cool down, but we don’t always cooperate.

Sometimes you need someone to do the meal planning for you, and at Bernini Honolulu, chef Kengo Matsumoto has done that with a summer menu that offers a lighter approach to Italian cuisine.

The full regular menu is also available, but here are the a la carte summer additions.
Bernini Honolulu is at 1218 Waimanu St. (on the left if heading in the direction toward the parking ramp to Ala Moana). Open 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Call 808.591.8400.

Venetian-style beef carpaccio with Parmesan topped arugula and aioli sauce.

Marinated octopus salad with tomato, orange and fennel.

Caviar on capellini with heirloom tomato and raspberry vinaigrette.

This dish of homemade fettuccine with Shinsato pork ragu and green olives rivaled the risotto as one of the hits of the evening. Fantastic texture and flavor, and lighter than one might assume with a pasta dish.

If you’re in the mood for pizza, the summer offering features grilled eggplant, Italian sausage and ricotta.

Veal cutlet Milano with cherry tomatoes and baby kale salad.

There’s swordfish under this deconstructed involtini featuring a sauté of scallop mousse, prawns and clams.

Even if you feel you saved no room for dessert, you’ll be surprised by the lightness of a Maui Gold pineapple tart with yogurt sauce. Usually pineapple is heavy, treacly or sour. The Maui Gold is beautifully mellow. The candied pineapple accent is wonderful.

Desserts are usually so rich, they must be shared, but in spite of eating all of the above, I could have easily finished this Kona coffee gelée and caramel bavarois by myself. It’s topped with coconut granita.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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