By Anni Caporuscio
Kristen and Bobby Valenti are still celebrating the move of Bobby V’s to the newly renovated Coconut Marketplace in Kapa‘a. Like a few good Italians, we sat down and had a meal together, and I felt like a kid. Take a moment to read my last name and realize why I love this restaurant. I spent my summers haunting sandwich shops, taverns, and pizzerias outside Pittsburgh.
Though Kristen and Bobby met on Kaua‘i, they both happen to be from Boston, where like most East Coast cities, you can find Italian restaurants and pizza shops on every corner.
It’s a slice of home. Red and white checkered table cloths. Industrial brick walls and stucco finishes. Shakers on the tables with parmesan and red pepper flakes. Garlic in the air. Drinking wine out of little jelly jars. Warm bread. Maps of Italy and huge paintings of Italian seascapes and vineyards. Black and white photographs of family. Sweet tomatoes and all the cheese you can imagine. Bobby V’s is a compilation of the places the Valentis grew up with and it replicates the style and feel from childhood: bricks, wood, red, and most of all, comfort food.
Bobby V’s is, quite possibly, the only place on Kaua‘i where you can experience the full traditional Italian-American menu. It’s nothing complicated; it’s what real working class Italian-Americans call good food. Like, a real meatball sandwich. Eggplant Parmeggiana. A list of specialty pizzas, but you can build your own too. Antipasto salad with meats and cheeses and pepperoncini. A pasta menu that covers all the bases, which is, in my amateur book, a red sauce, a green sauce, a white sauce, a no sauce, a ravioli and more. They’ve also got reasonably priced entrees, and calzones! A calzone is basically a folded up pizza, crust on the outside, warm savory, cheesy goodness inside.
I learned a few things. Marinara sauce: it’s a fast cooked sauce. It was originally made by fishermen (like mariner) on the back of the boat for lunch. There’s no meat, and you don’t cook it for too long or it burns out the sweetness of the tomatoes. I also learned that Genoa is the birthplace of pesto, the beloved ground and chopped basil/garlic/oil sauce. Traditionally it’s made with pine nuts, but Bobby makes his with Kaua‘i fresh basil and macadamia nuts, a touch some Genovese have said is the best.
Of course, Bobby V’s makes all their own sauces and dressings, both family recipes and made up on his own. Call ahead and you can take his sauce and meatballs home too. The marinara is known as “liquid gold.” Coming soon, look for his famous pesto bottled to go, bottled sauce and Italian dressing. Other future plans include a general liquor license starting in February, serving beer and wine and, importantly, aperitif. Every Italian meal is made complete with an after dinner aperitif like Limoncello or Sambuca.
Visit www.bobbyvpizzeria.com to learn about catering and specials, including a Tuesday family night special of a huge bowl of spaghetti marinara to share. If you’re in Kapa‘a, check out delivery options. Call 821-8080 or stop by the Coconut Marketplace for a good heritage experience.
- Anni Caporuscio is a food lover and can be found daily at her Kapa‘a business, Small Town Coffee.