I have been trying all week to come up with the words to describe Il Teatro @ Capische?. I have finally come to the conclusion that a picture really is worth a thousand words, and I should let my photos do most of the speaking for me.
Il Teatro means “the theater” in English. Chef Brain Etherredge created an interactive dining experience at his restaurant Capishe? last year, and it is truly a one of a kind culinary adventure. Tom and I, along with another couple that we sat with that night, had not just an incredible five course tasting menu with wine pairings, but such a great time and an evening we won’t soon forget.
Il Teatro has taken a Teppanyaki room and turned it into a table-side, interactive experience that any foodie would love. There was four of us that night, but the table seats up to ten, and with two tables, a group of twenty could partake. Chef Chris Kulis was our wizard for the evening. We also had our own sommelier, Matthew. Chef Chris is an alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America and has trained all over the world, including with Thomas Keller’s Chefs in Napa. When he found himself returning over and over again to Hawaii, he decided to stay and joined Chef Brain at Chapishe?
Our evening stared just after sunset, with a champagne toast. After introductions, Chef Chris got down to business. Our Amuse Bouche was what he called a Caviar Taco. On the grill he made an Herbed Crepe and in it he placed Caviar, Sashmi, Creme Fres and Fresh Cilantro. Finger foods of the gods.
Chef Chris was great, answering all my questions, allowing me to take as many pictures as I wanted, and making sure everything tasted as amazing as it looked. All the dishes were prepared in beautiful copper pans, and on the grill. Chef Chris plated all the courses in front of us with such ease.
For Course One he grilled the Butter Crostini and paired it with Ono Gravlox, topped with a Shaved Fennel Salad with Preserved Lemon and paper thin Proscuitto, Parma, Asparagus, splashed with Truffle Vinaigrette. This was light and flavorful and was paired with Vietti – Roero Arneis – Piedmont 2005
Course Two was a choice of a Warm Duck Confit, served over Upcountry Greens and Apricots and finished with a Shallot Vinaigrette, or Olive Oil Poached Onaga on Parsley Pesto, with White Anchovy Vinaigrette. Tom and I shared one of each, so that we were able to try all of the dishes.The duck was one of my favorite dishes, and the Oberto -Barbera D’alba- Piedmont- 2006, just pushed it up to an even higher level. The Onaga was served with a Teriano “Kreuth” Chardonny- Alto Adige 2003. Nice, crisp, perfect. One of my many questions for the chef was whether he planned the menu, or chose the wine first. Answer: The wine was chosen first, and the menu planned to show it off at it’s best. Mission accomplished!
Chef Chris began making two Risottos when we sat down. For the Third Course, he finished the first with Saffron and the second with Squid Ink. The Saffron Risotto was topped with Braised Pork Belly and Fried Shallot Gremolata. Matthew served us Allerini – “La Grola” – Valpolicello – 2004. The Risotto Nero was served with a Lobster Tail that was poached in Butter and a foam of Mascarpone Cappuccino. A Coppo-Chardonny – “Costebianche”- Vento – 2003 was poured to compliment. We again split the two dishes. I love all risottos, and am always trying to perfect mine at home. Chef Chris gave me great tips to help me out.
The couple that dined with us were from Idaho. The wife was Italian, and they had met and lived in Vegas before moving to Idaho. She had worked in restaurants in Vegas, and loved food as much as I do. She was 3 months pregnant with their first child, and was having no trouble with food. She asked if they had Foie Gras, and Chris brought out his special Foie Gras, that he had been working on for 5 days. He sliced it and served it with Strawberries, and Aged Balsamic. Matthew poured a Sauternes and we had such a special treat. It was very wonderful.
Before the next course, Chef Chris made us a refreshing palette cleanser.
Next was Lamb Chops with Herb Gnocchi and a Fig Sauce, served with Masi Agricola – Amarone – “Costasera” – Vento – 2003, or Polenta Crusted Ahi, with a Black Truffle Corn Sauce and Butternut Squash. This was paired with Cigliuti – Barbaresco – “Serraboella” – Piedmont – 2003. I told Chef Chris that my New Year’s Resolution was to learn how to make perfect Gnocchi, and he gave me pointers on this also. I love Chef Chris. The Lamb and the Ahi were both done perfectly, and Matthew made sure that we didn’t run out of our wine before the food was done.
Dessert was a warm Chocolate Cake, baked in a oven table-side, with Chambord Strawberry Sorbet. Our spoon was filled with Creme Brulee, giving us such an exquisite mouthful. What a perfect ending, paired with Banfi – Rosa Regale – Brachetto D’Acqui – 2005.
I don’t speak Italian, and I can only come up with so many words in English to signify what a fun night we had and how wonderful the food was. I have found a new interest in Italian wines, and we have started to try new ones at home. The experience was one I hope to have again on a return trip to Maui. Chef Chris tells me they change the menu often. So, enjoy the pictures, invent your own words, and know that Il Teatro really is that wonderful.