Ritzy concepts

From ‘ai ‘ono to Kai Cafe to Burger Shack, Kapalua resort restaurant outlets rockin’

Kai Cafe baristas Ellen Mateo (left) and Meleta Lino offer innovative drinks such as the Gibraltar and more. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is ramping up its restaurant concepts with the debut of ‘ai ‘ono tacos + tequila for lunch and daytime pupu by the pool in The Banyan Tree lounge and patio area.

Savor tacos such as the Red Rooster with harissa chicken and lime-cilantro sour cream; the Pailolo Catch with local seared fish, chipotle aioli and cotija cheese; and Da Hawaiian with kalua pork, Maui pineapple, pickled jalapeno, barbecue sauce and sour cream. Buddha bowls, keiki grinds and other Kapalua favorites round out the menu.

“It’s a significant difference for the daytime pool area,” says newly named Director of Food & Beverage Daniel Schmidt. “We showcase Hawaiian flavors, and we produce a good taco, too.”

The entire Ritz property will participate in the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival June 8 to 10. Ai’ono will set the stage for the seminar, “Hang Loose with Grey Goose & Banks Rum” from 3 to 6 p.m. June 9. It’s a poolside party featuring handcrafted Goose cocktails, specialty appetizers from The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua culinary team and live music from DJ Tony. For more details about KWFF, visit www.kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com.

Kai Cafe is jumping in the lobby area with espressos and smoothies and such starting at 5:30 a.m. and running until 3 p.m. daily. Do try the Gibraltar coffee beverage and take pics of the fun foam designs.

“Prepare for the beach, a hike or sightseeing with to-go items including homemade pastries, salads and wraps made with local organic, seasonal ingredients at Kai Cafe,” says Schmidt. “The Ritz is also now rebranding The Terrace in name and look and so the Anuenue Room is temporarily the breakfast and brunch outlet.”

Longtime employee and Maui boy Kenneth Sniffen has stepped up to become executive chef of the posh property in recent weeks. For Mother’s Day brunch on May 13, he will highlight extravagant desserts in a flower-shop setting especially created for Mom. For Kapalua Seafood Festival June 10, he will dazzle with a giant paella pan filled with the freshest catch. For more details, call 669-6200.