The Arancino Experience
By Maria Kanai
When Alessandro Bolla, general manager of Arancino at The Kahala, looks for restaurant employees, he’s keeping an eye out for what he calls “the spark.”
“There’s always a spark in their eyes that sets qualified employees apart from others,” explained Bolla, who has been with the restaurant since it opened in The Kahala Hotel & Resort location back in 2013. “It means they are motivated, and you can see it in the way that they talk and express themselves when they’re discussing food or service.”
Working at an award-winning Italian restaurant like Arancino at The Kahala has many rewards, such as going through an extensive training program where employees — who may or may not have a culinary background — are taught everything there is to know about the restaurant business.
Besides learning how to pronounce dishes, they’ll also taste the food and learn how to describe each dish, in turn preparing them to make sound recommendations to guests.
Another perk: the restaurant prefers promoting people from within, so there is room for growth, and an employee with drive can almost always excel.
As for the restaurant’s culinary philosophy, it’s simple: cook with the best, highest-quality ingredients, whether it’s local seafood and produce, or imported cheese, meats and pasta from Italy. “Our chef cooks the Italian way — that is, to feature the fresh ingredients we use, and not let the accompanying sauce or other condiments overpower the actual food itself,” said Bolla.
Take, for instance, the popular Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare, which features imported Japanese uni (sea urchin) of the highest grade and a light white wine garlic tomato cream sauce. Presentation also is key, which is evident with Bagna Cauda, an aesthetically pleasing dish that tastes as good as it looks.
Fresh vegetable crudites are cut and arranged to look like they are blooming in a flower pot, and the ingredients are paired with a warm anchovy garlic dip.
Moving onto the restaurant itself, the eatery invokes a memorable atmosphere and can best be described as “Tuscan villa-esque,” with dim lights, alfresco dining and Italian music playing in the background. “I hire people who are able to help create this authentic Italian experience, through attentive service and delicious food,” Bolla said.
During the interview process, he often asks potential employees what motivates them the most. “When they answer that they like to see the smiles on guests’ faces, I know they are a good fit — that’s also what motivated me when I started 36 years ago,” he added.
Part of ensuring the best dining experience for guests, Bolla explained that the restaurant invests in its staff, often times relying on their feedback, and making sure to include them in the overall decision-making process.
Arancino at The Kahala also is extremely guest-oriented, making sure that no one leaves lunch or dinner unsatisfied. Staff members ensure that each diner leaves remembering not only the food, but the service and atmosphere, too.
Arancino at The Kahala is the newest location of the restaurant group. There also are two other locations: the original Arancino on Beachwalk, which opened in 1996, and Arancino di Mare at Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
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ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTOS
COMPANY: Arancino at The Kahala
LOCATION: Kahala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave., Kahala (plus two more locations in Waikiki)
BENEFITS: Employee-training program, health insurance, cash bonus, paid time off , company parties
NOTEWORTHY: On Dec. 24-25, 30-31 and Jan. 1, there will be an eight-course holiday menu for $170. Designed by the chef, this special, limited-time menu will offer a variety of Italian dishes and is only available at the Kahala location. Reservations are encouraged.