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If you need proof that Italian plays in paradise, you'll find it here. Chef Wesley Holder and his merry band of kitchen innovators are using 80% local Maui products to do what the Italians do best: craft simple, delicious food that lets the ingredients shine. Must-haves include the local vine-ripened Caprese salad, the award-winning tortellini en brodo, and Chianti-braised short ribs. The wine list is excellent. As if great food and drink weren't enough, the service is stellar, and the glassed-in exhibition kitchen provides an eyeful of culinary entertainment. www.westinkaanapali.com/dining/pulehu. Closed Tues. and Wed.
The best thing about Porto—besides the delicious, fresh food—is that 100% of the profits go to the Pacific Whale Foundation, which owns the restaurant. The menu is short and manageable. The housemade chicken meatballs rise to the top of the appetizer list. There are plenty of panini and pastas, but the flame-fired artisan pizzas may be the best reason to come. The toppings make good use of Maui's bounty. The short wine list is excellent. Try the lucious strawberry shortcake for dessert. www.portomaui.com.
This is the more upscale and newer outpost of the very casual Pita Paradise location in Kihei Kalama Village. The room is beautiful and welcoming, and the staff is knowledgeable and friendly; but it's the food that is the main event here. Lunch features affordable and delicious Greek/Mediterranean appetizers, fresh salads, and, of course, the signature pita sandwiches. The spicy falafel and Greek burgers are standouts. In the evening the restaurant is transformed into an Italian/Greek bistro with entrées like chicken fettucine and moussaka. Although you'll be tempted to fill up on the scrumptious food, save room for the award-winning baklava ice-cream pie—yes, you read that right!—made with Maui's own Roselani Hawaiian vanilla-bean ice cream. www.pitaparadisehawaii.com.
The renovations took a long time (almost nine months) and cost a lot of money (more than $5 million), but the result is spectacular. While the setting is anything but humble, the menu at Ko—which means "sugarcane" in Hawaiian—borrows treasured family recipes from plantation days. Executive Chef Tylun Pang adds modern, innovative twists to Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese dishes. The cocktail and wine lists arrive via iPad. Take note of the tabletops—glassware, cutlery, plates, bowls, serving pieces. They are among the most handsome you'll see anywhere. www.ko.kealanifairmont.com. Credit cards accepted.
This nicely appointed open-air restaurant gives hotel dining a better name. The ocean views are stunning, and the gentle trade winds cool the night air. The glassed-in sushi bar is gorgeous. But it's the food that makes Japengo worth a visit. The award-winning sashimi-style hamachi and watermelon is delicious, while the fresh local fish is well prepared and perfectly accompanied. Many dishes are offered in half-portions at half-price, the better to taste more of the creative menu. Perhaps most surprising are the desserts, which are crazy good. Even if dessert translates for you to "chocolate," the flaming piña colada crème here will change your mind forever. www.maui.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels-maui/entertainment/dining_detail.jsp?itemDesc=fboutlet&itemId=1003060. No lunch.
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