On the ground floor of the S Hata Building, the restaurant's semi-antique interior, lovingly restored, is reminiscent of Old Hawaii -- wood floors, ceiling fans -- like something out of "From Here to Eternity" and other films of pre-war and wartime Hawaii.
The staff was friendly and efficient. I was surprised to be given a second Coke when my first was nearly finished. Giving diners refills of soft drinks, tea, and coffee is "a custom of the house," our waitress explained.
Favorite Dish: My wife had a fresh greens salad (lettuce, tomato, onions, etc) that she ranked among the best she's ever eaten. I had a nine-inch "create your own" pizza (Bay shrimp, pepperoni, black olives, and mushrooms) that was vastly superior to those of the chains -- Pizza Hut, Round Table, Straw Hat, et al.
In the old town section of Hilo, comfortable setting with large windows facing the Hilo Bay, good people watching
Favorite Dish: The Hakalua pork sandwich was so good my wife stole half of it. Poke salad very good and the faccaccia with gorgonzola was excellent.
Pesto makes me burp rancidly. This fact has caused me to avoid otherwise enticing menu items and almost drove me away from this restaurant. That would have been a big belching mistake, since there were plenty of pesto-less and delicious menu items to choose from in what is definitely the best restaurant in Hilo. Not only is the food fresh and delicious, but it's innovative (I had raw Ahi curry and potato soup one night). There is a focus on fish and seafood, as you would expect from a restaurant facing Hilo Bay, but they always have a meat special for those who insist an eating land-based protein. The wait staff is friendly and the decor classic. The only downer is that the restaurant is ALWAYS crowded, so you might want to be prepared for a half hour wait before seating. I didn't mind. During my last three-night sojourn to Hilo, I ate at Cafe Pesto every night.
Great meal, excellent service and I believe the best value that we found on the Big Island.
Favorite Dish: The calzone was stuffed full with a thin crust...just perfect, not too bready. The Pesto with Chicken Sausage and the Ceasar Salad was unbelievable!