Friday, September 25, 2009

Bistro Casanova, Kahului

Bistro Casanova has exploded on the scene as the shining star in the central valley dining firmament. Although they opened softly for lunch just this past week, The Bistro was already packed and bustling last Thursday when I stopped in unannounced.

The former Manana Garage space is barely recognizable, having been transformed into a swank urban-style eatery replete with gorgeous paintings by Maui’s top Italian artists, Alessio and Marcello Bugagiar, Piero Resta (who also did the signature piece at the upcountry Casanova), and Dario Campanile. The sensuous colors of Tuscany, blown glass pendant lights, street vendor fresh flowers, and cool granite bar set the stage for loving this place, which is what I predict Maui will do.

The newest addition to the well-established dining kingdom headed by Giovanni Cappelli will not be a carbon copy of the successful Makawao Casanova, Italian eatery supreme by day and headquarters for Maui’s dating scene by night. First of all, the food is Mediterranean, encompassing anything delicious you might find along that renown stretch of coast from Spain to Greece, which of course includes Italy.

The lunch menu currently features salads, pasta, sandwiches, Panini and crepes. Dinner, which will be offered in a few weeks, will focus on tapas, pastas, steaks and seafood. So picture sitting in a sidewalk cafĂ© in France; seaside in Spain eating mussels tapas; on the beach of St. Tropez picking at a luscious nicoise salad; or mange bene Pizza in Napoli. There’s no limit to the fantasies that can be conjured while dining here.
bistro cool one

Iced Teas So Satisfying You'll Never Miss the Booze

Because the liquor license won’t arrive until mid-October, Bistro Casanova’s head bartender, Brandi, has come up with a clever, wholesome antidote to keeping her bar in full-swing regardless. She single-handedly whips up fresh mint teas and lemonades concocted with fresh squeezed lemons and pureed fruit so good you’ll never miss the booze. I watched as she muddled non-stop through the lunch hour – never breaking her stride, never breaking her smile. Can’t imagine how happy she’ll make people once she can add a shot of hootch to those refreshing concoctions. Yes, I had one –and yes, it was fabulous.

I also tried the Paia Salad, a grilled Portobello mushroom set on salad with quinoa, cucumbers, fresh mint, tomatoes and an extremely light lemon dressing. After that washed down with the mint ice tea, I felt not only refreshed after lunch, I felt downright cleansed. Brandi tells me the intention is to grow a giant herb garden right alongside the restaurant to keep up with the demand for those minty drinks.

As to what you can expect late nights at Bistro Casanova, I’m told there won’t be a big dance floor, but will be small kine music acts like jazz and other mellow tunage to match the upscale fine dining vibe. The intention is to set the stage for passion (as they do in Makawao for the hipsters) aimed at a more professional, mature set that up until now have had to rely on their own imaginations or long drives to Kapalua and Wailea to experience such upscale ambiance. Maui diners will fall in love with Bistro Casanova’s prices, too. Crepes are $7-9; sandwiches $9-14; $7-16; pastas $12-15. Dinner menu promises to be of equal value.

I believe we have a winner here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What's Cooking Maui Online!!

What's Cooking Maui is a local's guide to everything happening on the island of Maui! Updated frequently, there are dining reviews and recommendations, upcoming events and much, much more. Head over to the site right now for the best information on our Hawaiian paradise.