Kauai Pasta, located in Kapaa town on Kauai's East shore, is one of the better quality restaurants on the island. I’m not sure it would make the top ten but it comes pretty close.
As Kapaa locals, we have dined at Kauai Pasta numerous times. Recently we dined there with my husband’s parents who are from New York City, and their restaurant standards are quite high. After many vacations to Kauai they now know to lower their expectations, as they have eaten out on this island enough to know that unlike Manhattan, great dining experiences are not among Kauai’s greatest assets.
Even so, they do like Kauai Pasta and usually find that a meal there satisfies their hunger if not their culinary tastes. It is always a good idea to make reservations as they are busy most evenings. Even though we had made a booking, they did not have a table ready for us immediately. There are three dining areas in the restaurant. We prefer the quieter front room with booth seating, the middle room is ok but seems to be where they seat families, so it is a little rowdier. The back room where the bar is tends to be a little dark and resembles a nightclub in the evening and a noisy football-viewing bar in the daytime. The restaurant is also open for lunch daily.
There are two Kauai Pasta locations on Kauai – one in Kapaa and the other in Lihue. Both are family owned and specialize in Italian comfort food as well as daily contemporary specials. The lounge features a tapas menu, signature cocktails, a boutique wine list, and a selection of beers.
My favorite dish is the Spinach Salad with raspberry vinaigrette, candied pecans and blue cheese (although I switch that for feta). The salad is light and a lovely blend of crunch, sweetness and the tang of feta. This time we also started with the Caprese, which was nice enough although the mozzarella tasted like it came straight from Cosco – unfortunately we do not have the fresh-made variety anywhere on Kauai it seems. Warm, fresh bread arrived soon after the appetizers and the garlic butter accompanied it quite well.
On a previous visit we ordered the Crab Stuffed Portabello Mushroom with asparagus and a sweet hollandaise-style sauce, and it was delectable - creamy, tasty and fresh. The Eggplant Parmesan with angel hair pasta and meat sauce is always a hit with my husband, as it is usually tasty, and apart from being a little too salty, is delicious enough. The Keiki cheese pizza is the meal of choice for our 5-year old, who devours it in a matter of minutes.
We ordered a couple of items from the daily specials – The Pizzetta of the Day and the Seafood Gnocchi. The pizza was topped with blue crab, bacon, sautéed onions, cherry tomatoes, spinach, havarti cheese, and a lemon caper butter sauce. The sauce added a unique flavor to a delicious combination of generous toppings. The crust was fairly thin and tasty. The gnocchi special was good - the seafood was cooked in an interesting sauce, tangy, but a somewhat strange mix of flavors. The gnocchi was a little too doughy. Our server for the evening was friendly and on it, however there seemed to be a disconnect between him and the bar and kitchen. The appetizers came immediately but the entrees took a long time to arrive, as did the keiki pizza – much to the dismay of our hungry 5-year old. The drink orders were mixed up and they weren’t particularly friendly about it.
Overall, the dining experience here is quite good, if you are willing to overlook some of the details. Lets face it - Kauai is not a place to expect excellence in restaurant quality. It is just not what the island is known for. Kauai Pasta is one of the better options on the island, and there are many interesting and tasty dishes as well as a family-friendly atmosphere.
Restaurant Hours: Daily from 11am to 9pm...Lounge Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11am to 12am and Sunday: 11am to 10pm...Happy Hour: Daily 3-5pm
Phone: (808) 822-7447