Praline Perfection

Pierre Marcolini chocolates sweeten things up at Ala Moana Center.

Belgium’s haute chocolatier is flying in cocoa confections et al. To Ala Moana’s Ewa Wing. Sculpted into Honolulu-exclusive symbols de la mer—dolphins, turtles and seashells among them—Pierre Marcolini’s cosmopolitan chocolates arrive in beautifully packaged boxes embossed with the chocolatier’s signature emblem: an elegantly engraved cacao pod.


Established in 1995—in a humble, 30-square-meter shop—Pierre Marcolini now rolls out handcrafted bites of heaven by the hundreds. Its eponymous founder truly is an epicurean artisan and ingredient purist. Born in Belgium with Italian roots, Marcolini attributes the romanticism and dreaminess behind each morsel of his inventive sweets to his parents’ home city, Verona: the setting for Romeo and Juliet. Pursuing his passion at the ripe, young age of 14 quickly catapulted him to the top of the culinary food chain. Curiosity—and lots of taste testing—let to Marcolini maison’s presently celebrated flavors. His endeavor? “Satisfy those in search of the best sweet delights, whilst introducing them to a world of freshness and innovation.”

Renowned as one of the sole chocolatiers who roasts beans himself, Marcolini’s handcrafted precision heightens the chocolates’ intensity and aroma, assuring each morsel rolling out of the workshop is a masterpiece: sorted, blended, tempered and beautifully packaged to taste. Considering chocolate-making a “treasure hunt,” Marcolini surveys the globe for the finest ingredients, from bean to bar.


Grands Crus, for example, comprises 36 pure chocolates: handpicked from remote ends of the world, and then delicately roasted to unlock gusto. Blending intercontinental beans back in Brussels, Marcolini views raw cacao, as wine, “deserves a tribute to its noble roots.” He is involved with each step of the process, “securing the market” through face-to-face interaction with cacao farmers scattered throughout Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba and Peru, thus meriting the marque’s status as a “respected” luxury chocolatier.

From avant-garde audacity to aesthetic exemplars, bonbons come peppered with exquisite spices: pink peppercorns from Morocco, pistachios from Iran, pepper from Sichuan, Madagascar vanilla, rose water, violet and Sicilian lemon among them. Boxed in a similar fashion to high-end bijoux, assortments are tailored to taste in subdued palettes and pure lines. Quotidian shapes, flavors and textures are redesigned, giving the chocolates a “lighter,” celestial consistency.

Known for letting no chocolate exit the Haren shop until it passes the “boss’” lips, Marcolini’s choosy palate expanded into a phenomenon of 28 global outlets by 2011. As Marcolini shops favor major gastronomic cities of cultured connoisseurs and foodies, Pierre Marcolini decidedly opens its doors in Honolulu.


Marcolini duly sweetens up the pâtisserie playing field in Honolulu, the brand’s sole U.S. brick and mortar. Only available in the isles, dive into Marcolini’s latest Marine Life Chocolate mix, inspired by (and shaped like) Hawai‘i’s beauty and nature: Dolphin Caramel Dark (caramel and salted butter coated with dark chocolate); Dolphin Praline Milk (hazelnut-and-almond praline coated with milk chocolate); Hawaiian-Fish Caramel Poisson Dark (caramel and salted butter coated with dark chocolate); Tortoise Praline Pistachio Dark (grilled-and-salted pistachio praline coated with dark chocolate); Starfish Caramel Raspberry Blanc (raspberry caramel coated with white chocolate); Seashell Large Kona Coff ee Milk (Kona coffee chocolate coated with milk chocolate); Seashell Small Vanilla Blanc (vanilla milk chocolate coated with white chocolate). Th e chocolatier also has a few local collaborations in the works, including a product tie with Big Island Candies.

These goodies, alongside heart-shaped, scarlet-hued crèmes, un-demonize chocolate—unjustly damned gluttonous—under angelic archetypes. Feast your eyes upon biscuits and colorful confections. Eclectic edibles (escargot white chocolates, anyone?) provide connoisseurs plenty of choices: truffles, macarons, candied fruit, etc. À la European fashion houses, Marcolini also debuts seasonal collections, enabling gourmands to savor new assemblages twice annually.

Sample a few Saveurs du Monde, and you, too, will understand why with just one bite, gastronomes guess: “That’s a Pierre Marcolini.” A chocolatier like no other, loosen your belt to revel in the pleasure of Pierre Marcolini.

All photos courtesy Pierre Marcolini

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