Assaggio: Italian Perfection in Hawaii
Established in 1989, you would have never would have guessed that the owner of Assaggio is not even ethnically Italian. Although a minor detail, it does however speak to Assaggio’s craft as a first class Italian restaurant. Thomas Ky has since established the restaurant’s reputation as one of the premier choices in Italian cuisine on the island of Oahu. His commitment to succeed was evident from his child hood.
In 1978 at age 13 he immigrated to the United States as part of a mass exodus from Saigon, arriving alone he was placed into foster care in a New York City home. In the summer he mowed lawns and in the winter shoveled snow; when old enough he then transitioned to washing dishes and bussing tables in restaurants. Ky then graduated to working in various upscale New York restaurants learning the finer points of cooking and operating a successful restaurant.
Their flagship location in Ala Moana
In 1984 Ky left New York in favor of year round sun, consistent weather, and opportunity. Once ettling down in Hawaii, he worked day and night at a few restaurants to save enough to start his own restaurant. In ’87 his dream became a reality when he partnered with a few investors and opened Salerno’s, a well respected Italian restaurant in McCully. After two years of a successful partnership, Ky cashed in his Salerno shares to fund his own venture, Assaggio. Nowadays his restaurant operates in 6 different locations: Mililani, Hawaii Kai, Kapolei, Kahala, Kailua, and Ala Moana.
Assaggio is a classic place for a near fine dining experience, excellent food, and decent prices. It can fit any occasion: date night, family dinners, dinner with friends, lunch, you get the idea. The atmosphere is always spot on with a nice mix of age ranges, however on their busy nights it it can be a bit noisy. The tables are not placed too close together, with generous booths and classy dividers. The place is very clean, and I have always been greeted warmly and seated promptly. I suggest making reservations, it’s not easy to get a table if you do not plan ahead.
I also really enjoy their marina side location in Hawaii Kai
Carbonara: It features bacon and ham pan-fried in olive oil and mixed with onions, egg and parmesan cheese. I always get my carbonara sans the onions, but everything else results in a savory medley when combined. The bacon and ham are tasty–they always provide a good amount of bacon–and I love the buttery flavor of the garlic and olive oil as well.
Alla Parmigiana Style: It features boneless chicken breast that’s lightly breaded and pan fried then topped with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. The chicken breast is served over a bed of fresh linguine.
Milanese Style: I want to get this entrée one day because it features some of my favorite ingredients — chicken breast that’s pan fried in olive oil, garlic and fresh basil, and served over a bed of linguine. I really do like linguine-style pasta, and I prefer cream sauce/olive oil instead of marinara or tomato sauce.
Alla Scampi: It entails lightly floured jumbo shrimp that’s pan fried in olive oil and garlic and served with in a white wine butter sauce. This concoction sounds garlicky, buttery and savory all at the same time.
Piccata Style: It features lightly breaded chicken that’s pan fried in olive oil, capers, garlic and lemon and served in a white wine butter sauce. Capers make any chicken or pasta dish better, so I’m dying to try this pasta dish one day.
Casino Style: This pasta dish is yummy because it features boneless chicken breast pan fried in olive oil and served with garlic, bacon, onion, fresh basil and a white wine butter sauce.
Alla Saltimbocca Romana Style: Spinach is my favorite vegetable, which is the main draw of this dish for me. It features boneless chicken breast lightly breaded and pan fried in olive oil and topped with spinach, melted mozzarella cheese, prosciutto ham and drenched in a mushroom white wine butter sauce. I’m not the hugest fan of mushrooms, but I would make an exception to try this dish.
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