By Request

By Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, April 14, 1999

By Kathryn Bender,Star-Bulletin
Chef Kubo Luu of Verbano Italiano dishes up a serving
of Clam Tuscano, above, which uses his Marinara Sauce
as the base. The final dish is generously garnished
with fresh basil.

Marinara gutsy
with garlic, basil

GARLIC and basil -- lots of garlic and basil -- are the keys to the success of Kubo Luu's marinara sauce.

Luu is owner and chef at Verbano Italiano Ristorante in Kaimuki, and also owns Verbano's King Street location. He makes up 8 to 10 gallons of the red sauce on a busy night and uses it as the base for 75 percent of the dishes on his menu.

Luu describes his dishes as leaning toward the Sicilian and Tuscan styles, pungent with garlic, tinged with anchovy -- and spicy.

Luu, a native of Vietnam, came to Hawaii in 1980, studied at Kapiolani Community College and then in Italy. He opened Verbano seven years ago.

George Mark is one of the restaurant's biggest fans. He says he's tried marinara sauces at many of Oahu's Italian eateries and finds Verbano's to be something special.

"It's tastier than a lot of other places."

Luu shared his recipe without hesitation. It is packed with fresh basil, stems and all, and a goodly amount of fresh, chopped garlic. He also provided his recipe for a spicy Clam Tuscano -- "Ahhh, that's good," Mark says -- to show how the marinara is used to create other dishes.

To try the real thing, Verbano is at 3571 Waialae Ave. and 1451 S. King Street. Hours are 11 a.m. -2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5-10 p.m. for dinner. Call 735-1777 (Waialae) or 941-9168 (King).


Verbano's Marinara Sauce

3 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
1/2 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 tablespoon crushed black pepper
1/2 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces fresh basil, with stems and leaves (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 gallon canned Italian pear tomatoes (see note)

Saute garlic, salt, pepper and sugar in oil until garlic is brown.

Add basil and tomatoes. Cook over low heat about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Makes 6 cups.

Note: Tomatoes need to be seeded and crushed prior to cooking.

Luu uses Cochina brand tomatoes.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per 1-cup serving: 200 calories, 14 g total fat, 2 g. saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, greater than 1000 mg sodium


Clam Tuscano

3 ounces chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste)
12 ounces chopped clams, canned or fresh
6 cups Marinara Sauce (above)
1/4 cup red wine

(PI) Chile pepper sauce:
1/2 teaspoon chile peppers, seeded and skinned
4 tablespoons olive oil

To make pepper sauce, combine ingredients and blend in food processor. Set aside.

Saute onion and garlic in 4 tablespoons oil until garlic is browned. Add remaining ingredients, including chile pepper sauce, and bring to a boil. Do not overcook clams. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 670 calories, 50 g total fat, 7 g. saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, greater than 1900 mg sodium

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to

Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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