The Strawberry Patch: Comfort Food with Heart & SoulFebruary 17, 2017, 2:29 PM HST (Updated February 17, 2017, 2:33 PM)
Quaint and romantic are the first words that come to mind when stepping onto the lānai of The Strawberry Patch restaurant in Kealakekua. Twinkle lights surround the entrance, and the scent of fresh baked bread, garlic and home-cooked deliciousness waft out the front door.
Chef and owner Amelia Antonucci Fisher is notably humble and unassuming, and is happy to greet diners with a wink and a smile.
“My great grandfather moved to the United States from Sicily and opened a bakery and grocery store in Steubenville, Ohio,” said Fisher. “My dad’s first business was a crepe cart where he sold crepes off of a little buggy. Then the year I was born, my parents opened their first restaurant, which was also called The Strawberry Patch. So this is where I come from.”
Passionate about food since she was a child, Fisher knew she was going to open her own restaurant since she was a teenager. In 2011, she opened The Strawberry Patch with her sister and has been going strong ever since.
“It’s been quite surreal, really,” she said. “There are still so many times when I unlock the door in the morning and think, ‘Oh, this is my restaurant. This is my place!’ It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding, to say the least.”
A self-taught culinary artist, Fisher’s love of edible creativity shines through her dishes.
“There is always something new to learn in the food world,” said Fisher. “There is always something you don’t know how to make, or you want to twist and create. I don’t really use any recipes—I look around for inspiration and something different and new. I pretty much cook any type of cuisine across the board. I enjoy cooking for people who want a unique dining experience with well-crafted cuisine that is different from what everybody else is doing. I often hear from my clientele that they can really feel the love and passion in my food. That’s what I really love about it.”
Fisher uses locally grown ingredients from reputable farmers and even grows some of her herbs on the restaurant’s property. She uses these fresh and locally sourced herbs and vegetables to create delicious meals with creative presentations.
“It’s beautiful when you can create a dish that has many levels of flavor, yet is also presented beautifully. I’m a sucker for sauces—anything with layers of sauce, layers of textures,” she said.
“We have something unique and something different, the chef continued. “I really try to incorporate my history and my heritage into my food, but also with a bit of island flair. We’re global eclectic cuisine. It’s hard to describe my place. I do a little bit of everything because I love it. The staff and the people that work with me; they are my family. They really all love to be here, and I think that’s something really unique. It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.
The Strawberry Patch is located at 79-7491 Mamalahoa Highway in Kealakekua. The restaurant can be reached at (808) 322-9060.