Former Cafe Sistina in Makiki is gone for good
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Former Cafe Sistina in Makiki is gone for good

  • GEORGE F. LEE / 1999

    Sergio Mitrotti, who opened Cafe Sistina in 1991, holds his dishes of braised veal, left, and pink snapper in walnut-mint sauce.

  • PAT GEE / PGEE@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A sign on the door at Sistina announced its closure.

Sistina, known for its Northern Italian cuisine as well as dramatic frescoes painted from floor to ceiling, served its last plate of pasta last week.

The current owner of the King Street restaurant, Tom Sayarath, said Friday that he could no longer afford the high cost of doing business in the Interstate Building, where the restaurant was a mainstay on the ground floor. The restaurant closed for good Dec. 28.

The restaurant’s original name of Cafe Sistina was simplified more than two years ago when Sayarath took over the restaurant from chef Sergio Mitrotti, who opened it in 1991.

Sayarath is a partner in the company Laos Aroma Cucina, which took over the tail end of Mitrotti’s five-year lease when the founder retired and left Hawaii.

Cafe Sistina was a trendy spot for diners seeking authentic Italian cooking and late-night jazz in a spacious room exuding ambience. Known as an all-around Renaissance man, Mitrotti re-created iconic scenes from the Sistine Chapel with a paintbrush.

He brought recipes of his grandmother and mother from Italy to Hawaii, as well as his own innovative fusion cuisine, incorporating New York and California influences.

Sayarath kept some of Mitrotti’s dishes on the menu but brought some of his own recipes to Sistina. He said he has no current plans to open another restaurant.

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