The Weekly Eater

By Nadine Kam
Star-Bulletin

Thursday, January 28, 1999


Peridot’s pasta is a
bit of a gamble

HEY! You like to gamble, right? Visiting Peridot restaurant is as good as going to Vegas. Pick a number, pick an entree. Sometimes you win. Only sometimes.

It was a struggle to come up with a winning entree at Peridot, despite its vast menu. The odds are better with increased orders, but while we go to Vegas expecting to lose a little, there's no reason eating out should be this much of a gamble, down to the type of cuisine served.

Two months ago Peridot was serving Euro-Asian cuisine. Now, it's billing itself as a Ristorante Italiano. That makes sense. Pasta needs no explanation and because Peridot occupies the space that was a longtime home to another pasta restaurant, Angelo Pietro's, it may be able to cash in on its predecessor's reputation.

I wasn't fond of Pietro's when it opened, but its staff was open to suggestions, improved the menu over time, survived and moved on to bigger quarters. With a little improvement, history could repeat itself at Peridot.

Star Rating

Where Pietro's sauces started out watery and bland, Peridot already comes out ahead by taking the opposite route. Pastas are flavored with plenty of garlic, and are often studded with plenty of meaty mushrooms that are perfectly sauteed.

On the down side, the pastas are cooked beyond al dente, and the minimal use of sauce makes for a mouthful of dry noodles. This is no biggie to those who simply go for quantity at a reasonable prices.

Those who look at food as more than filler expect more. Besides, most of these pastas -- for instance, chicken ($7.90, $9.90) sauteed with garlic, oil, spinach, diced tomato, onion, bacon and oregano -- are too easy to recreate at home to tolerate less than perfection.

THE first clue that something was amiss came with the steak-and-seafood Combo Peridot ($15.90). The "filet mignon" was tough, chewy and tasted as if it had sat in a refrigerator too long. The seafood -- tender strips of calamari, scallops and shrimp tossed with chopped clams out of a can -- was handled much better.

A dish of Fish Cayenne ($10.90 small, $12.90 regular) was as hot as any cayenne aficionado could desire, but the mahimahi used, too, seemed past its prime.

Our waiter did speak highly of the Melazane ($7.90, $9.90), eggplant stuffed with mozzarella and ricotta, and that was not bad, save for the institutional tomato sauce. And he said customers love the Veal Marsala ($12.90, $14.90). The veal was wonderful, but the wine sauce was absent (if you order this you'll probably get the sauce; I don't think consistency is one of their strengths), and of course, the usual pasta problem.

Dessert came as a relief. The spumoni ($2.75) was fine.

Ultimately, this is a paper-napkin kind of place, so one must consider that in judging Peridot. But I also have to believe that the intent in opening a restaurant is to deliver something better than the next guy. In this case, there are already too many restaurants doing the same thing, better.

Tapa

Peridot Ristorante Italiano: 1159 Kapiolani Blvd.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. daily
Prices: About $25 for two without drinks
Call: 589-2811

See a listing of past restaurants reviewed in the
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Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

-- excellent;
-- very good, exceeds expectations;
-- average;
-- below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to features@starbulletin.com



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