Dining Fine

Word is out that the new paella entree at Sarento’s on the Beach in Kihei is attracting diners like bees to the mother hive.

Served sizzling in a traditional Valencian paella pan, Sarento’s take on what many view as Spain’s national dish is big on taste, presentation and fresh seafood. I also found the portion to be ginormous, and had plenty of it left to share with my husband the next day over lunch.

“We serve it hot in a nice paella pan,” says Tri-Star Restaurant Group’s Corporate Chef Geno Sarmiento. “It’s our newest thing right now at Sarento’s and it comes packed with Hawaiian spiny lobster, tiger shrimp, Manila clams, calamari and housemade linguesa sausage. Put that in the middle of the table with some appetizers and salads, and you just can’t go wrong.”

Situated on Keawakapu, one of Kihei’s premier beaches, with sweeping views of ocean action, whales and three Neighbor Islands, Sarento’s offers Italian-style warmth and hospitality. It even dished up a stunning green-flash sunset last week, and “oohs” and “ahhs” reverberated.

It is renowned for its superior service, and when you couple that with the outstanding Mediterranean Rim cuisine, Sarento’s is where memories are created. It’s also got a beautiful private dining room for parties up to 18; and it’s a winner on date nights and other special occasions, such as business and family functions.

“My philosophy is straightforward,” says Sarmiento. “I support the small farmers and island agriculture when creating menu items from various regions in the Mediterranean. Osso Buco is one of our signatures, and we also have a healthful focus, as our owner’s wife is a personal trainer. Just look for the Discus Boy icons on the menu.”

Personal favorites are the Olowalu tomato gazpacho brimming with jumbo lump crab, Maui mango, Hana avocado and basil oil; beef carpaccio with citrus-truffle vinaigrette; Romaine Caesar with white anchovies; and fresh island snapper (onaga on our visit) pan roasted to perfect doneness.

The award-winning wine list is one of the most respected collections in Hawaii with more than 1,500 bottles from France to Chile to California. Desserts, such as tiramisu, take the experience over the top.

Sarento’s is joined in the Tri-Star group by Nick’s Fishmarket and Manoli’s Pizza Co. in Wailea and Son’z Steakhouse at the Hyatt in Kaanapali.

Owner Aaron Placourakis is revered as one of Hawaii’s top restaurateurs and says he is pleased to announce Son’z Steakhouse has a new name (it was formerly Son’z at Swan Court at night ), new menu and its interior renovation is now complete.

“Our focus is now on signature premium steaks, chops as well as seafood, and diverse entrees and appetizers that appeal to all our guests,” Placourakis says.

The redecorated space, once called the “Most Romantic Restaurant in the World” by “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” host Robin Leach, is even better with earth-toned weaves, tortoise-shell and carved driftwood wall panels that tie together in an abstract, contemporary Hawaiiana theme.

“We’ve given Son’z a classic, comfortably elegant look so customers can relax and dine in style,” he says.

Two of the most popular menu items from sister restaurants are served at Son’z, such as Nick’s island snapper and Sarento’s spaghetti with Snake River Ranch Kobe meatballs. Check it out. The Tri-Star group assures that you will be “dining fine.”