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By Request

By Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, August 16, 2000

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Mediterraneo owner/chef Fabrizio Favale says the secret to
the salad, at right, is hand-tossing. For the pomodoro sauce
dressing the pasta at left, he says tomato seeds should
be removed because they are too acidic.

Uncompromisingly Roman

Americans have a lot of wrong ideas about Italian food, from cheesy fish to over-dressed pastas. If Fabrizzio Favale were in charge, I get the feeling he'd fix all that.

"Cheese on seafood in Italy is illegal," Favale says. "Police come and arrest you."

And that's only part of it. In a single conversation, he makes clear the firmness of his convictions. "Italian dressing, who invented that? I kill this person."

At his King Street restaurant, Mediterraneo, Favale serves the simple but true foods of his hometown, Rome. "Our menu and our recipes are straight Italian. You like, you eat. You don't like, you don't eat. ... I don't like compromise. A lot of people like me, a lot of people don't like me. The balance is pretty good."

Ann Tang likes. She wrote asking for the Mediterraneo house salad dressing: "It was very light and looked almost like there was nothing to it other than finely chopped tomatoes. That's exactly what it looked like. It was unlike any other salad dressing I've ever tasted."

Rarely do you hear someone so enamored of a salad dressing, but Tang was unequivocal. "Everyone loved it."

She also speaks with fondness of Favale's pomodoro sauce, a simple tomato-basil sauce served with fettucine.

The chef opened Mediterraneo seven years ago, following partnerships with Sergio Mitrotti at Cafe Cambio and Cafe Sistina. His restaurant, between Piikoi and Keeaumoku, is just down King Street from Cafe Sistina.

Cooking runs in the family, beginning with his mother, who started him on this path. "My mom is unbelievable, a classic Italian lady. Everything she touch, come good." His two sisters run a restaurant in Rome.

True Italian food showcases quality ingredients and the best pasta, without fanciness or pretense, Favale says. "In Rome we eat very simple things, but the quality got to be good. The restaurant got to be simple."

His recipes for salad dressing and the pomodoro sauce are indeed simple. Simple enough that he dictated them as he cooked, rather than write them down. Watch him in the kitchen and he's not measuring anything, anyway. Taste as you go, he says.

As for technique -- well, with the salad the key is hands-on handling. He has his cooks toss the greens with their hands, and taste every portion after salting to be sure the mix is right.

The greens are flavored first with olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt, then topped with a dressing of chopped tomatoes marinated in garlic, olive oil and basil. No balsamic vinegar, another thing that makes him throw up his hands and roll his eyes. At Mediterraneo, balsamic is deemed worthy only as a dip for bread.

His purist approach keeps his restaurant busy, and it would work anywhere, Favale insists. "You invite me to your house, I open the refrigerator, I cook. Everything come good."


1 lettuce heart
4 cups mixed greens
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt to taste

Bullet Dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
10 basil leaves, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
2 tomatoes, chopped fine

Process all dressing ingredients, except tomatoes, in a food processor or blender. Pour over tomatoes, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Break up lettuce heart and toss with greens. Just before serving, toss with oil, vinegar and salt. Use your hands and taste, adjusting seasoning. Divide among 4 plates. Top each with dressing. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving (without added salt): 215 calories, 21 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 290 mg sodium.*


1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cups plain canned whole tomatoes
10 basil leaves
1 pound fresh fettucine, cooked
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

Heat oil; saute onion until carmelized.

Smash tomatoes by hand, squeezing out and discarding seeds. Strain tomatoes and add liquid to the onions. Reduce slightly, then add tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes, then add basil leaves and cook another 10 minutes, covered.

Toss with pasta and cheese. Serves 2.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 800 calories, 14 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 170 mg cholesterol, greater than 500 mg sodium.*

Food Stuffs: Morsels

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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