Pescatore closes doors after 33 years in Hilo


A downtown Hilo institution for 23 years, Pescatore has closed its doors.

The listed phone number for the longtime Italian restaurant at the corner of Keawe and Haili streets had a disconnect message when called on Thursday afternoon. A listed phone number for owner Jim Murphy had also been disconnected and his Facebook page had a Dec. 22 post from a friend who wrote: “I heard a rumor … is it true?”

“Soon,” Murphy replied.

“Sad for us … happy for you … mixed emotions stirring up,” the poster replied.

Pescatore opened in November 1990, according to Murphy’s Facebook page. The location was previously occupied by What’s Cooking restaurant. Murphy’s Facebook page showed a photo dated Dec. 21 with an almost full dining room and a note that read “10:15 p.m. &still going.”

A private Facebook message requesting a call from Murphy was not returned Thursday, but the Facebook page of his wife, Germaine, stated “we moved to Houston, Texas” in a Christmas Day post.

Gerald De Mello, retired director of University Relations at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, held staff luncheons at Pescatore. He said his favorite dish there was the pasta puttanesca.

“I love my Italian food; I enjoyed going there,” De Mello said Thursday evening. “I would always take the staff there for the end of the year (and) the Christmas luncheons because they had the nice back room and they were friendly.

“They gave you a good amount of tasty food at a reasonable rate and we like private dining. Where am I going to go for puttanesca now?”

The restaurant expanded its bar into an adjoining space a few years ago. It’s not known at this time if there are new tenants with plans for the location. Stephens Media Hawaii was unable to contact the building’s owners, listed in county tax records as Dayton and Charlene Oniwa.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.