Longhi’s Legacy

General Manager Michael Rose (left) and Owner Peter Longhi are proud of their repeat Best Award of Excellence wine list from the Wine Spectator magazine. They stand in Longhi’s Wailea wine cellar, which holds 500 bottles ranging from $28 to $1,000. • The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

Who remembers the original Longhi’s Lahaina “menu” presented verbally by smooth-as-silk servers sporting T-shirts with “w.t.f” on the sleeves? Well, speed up to 2018 and Longhi’s has come a long way, baby, while still standing by its philosophy of quality ingredients.

“We started off with no menus and now we have tons and tons of written pages in English, Japanese and Korean,” says Mike Rose, longtime general manager at Longhi’s Wailea. “Bob would shake his head. But times change. Lahaina turned 40 last year and the South Maui restaurant in The Shops at Wailea is at 17 years.”

The late Bob Longhi was an eccentric restaurateur who was ahead of his time in terms of utilizing fresh local ingredients as well as importing top products from Italy such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses of the utmost quality.

Now Bob’s son Peter Longhi runs the Maui restaurants, daughter Carol O’Leary is a partner in Lahaina and son Charlie Longhi operates Longhi’s Ko Olina on Oahu. So the family is very much involved.

“Our menu is pretty large with close to 75 items on the dinner portion,” confirms Peter. “There’s something for everyone. We have clams, mussels, lobster, crab legs and four types of fish like salmon, ahi, monchong and onaga.”

The calamari fritta (at left, second photo), with Arrabiata and basil aioli; freshly baked focaccia and artichoke Longhi filled with lemon butter and Reggiano parmesan tempt. • The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

Steaks are all prime and antibiotic free as well as from free-range cattle.

Longhi’s also goes organic when possible and often serves large, family-style portions. Creamy gelatos and sorbets are made in house as are the focaccia and the pizza bread, which rocks.

Pastas are plentiful and include fettuccini Lombardo with Alfredo sauce, English peas and prosciutto; Bolognese of prime ground beef, Italian sausage, fennel and pomodoro sauce; lobster cannelloni with bechamel sauce; and pasta Putana with Sicilian and Kalamata olives.

“Longhi’s was always at the forefront of farm-to-table on Maui,” says Rose. “But all of our imported staples are from Balsamic vinegar to olive oils, to pine nuts to cheeses. We have 1,000 pounds of mozzarella at any one time in the restaurant. I think we can fill the restaurant up and down with cheeses from famous Polly-O Dairy manufacturer in New York City.

Mediterranean lunch and dinner menus

Server Chelsea Elaban holds fresh cauliflower Sicilian sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with capers, crused red peppers and toasted garlic. • The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

also offer perfect sharing sides of sauteed veggies for those craving fresh asparagus, cauliflower Sicilian with toasted garlic and capers, spinach with extra virgin olive oil and garlic fries.

The salads rank among the favorites with organic Romaine wedges from Waipoli Farms topped with buttermilk-blue cheese dressing; Greek baby Romaine from Triple N Farms; Caprese with bufala mozzarella and Haiku tomatoes; and Longhi salad with cannellini beans, Gorgonzola cheese and greens beans added to the organic greens and tomato mix.

The wine program ranks at the top of Hawaii’s heap. It wins the Best Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator each year. Wailea offers 65 wines by the glass–and Lahaina has 22.

“Our wine list is presented on an iPad which provides important details as well as suggests food pairings. Or you can pick a food and get wine pairings,” says Peter. “We feature many green wines, biodynamic and organic.”

“Some like Frog’s Leap don’t go for the organic certification, but we tend to go for those wineries who use good practices and grow their own grapes.”

There are three meal periods: breakfast, lunch and dinner and now brunch runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Sip French press coffees, opt from six eggs Benedicts, enjoy fresh seasonal fruits and eggs with fresh Hawaiian fish or prime New York steak and made from scratch quiches and cinnamon rolls, fresh squeezed juices and more.

Yes, the Longhi’s legacy lives on.


Longhi’s on Maui at a glance:

• Longhi’s Lahaina: Located at 888 Front St., it’s open daily for breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.; happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m.; and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. For more details, call 667-2288.

• Longhi’s Wailea: Located in The Shops at Wailea., it is open daily for breakfast from 8 to 11:30 a.m.; brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m.; and dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Get four hours free validated parking when dining. For reservations or more details, call 891-8883.

• Seafood: Classic steamed live Kona Maine lobster; seared ahi au Poivre; shrimp Longhi and four types of fresh fish.

• Classic meats: Tuscan ribs, veal scallopini, prime New York steak; filet Longhi.

• Pastas: Linguine and clams, pasta Putana, fettuccine Lombardi.

• Desserts: Hot macadamia nut pie; tiramisu; housemade gelatos and sorbets, caramel Knowledge (try it, you’ll like it).