Hawaii's seasonal ban on bottom fishing recently was lifted and Pita Paradise is luring in diners with the freshest of island catch in its Kihei Kalama location.
"I'm out there on my 34-foot boat catching fish full time," says owner Johnny Arabatzis. "So since I am not cooking anymore, we hired Jesse Robinson to be our chef. He worked at the Humuhumu for over 10 years at Grand Wailea. He seems to be really happy working with our quality food and with our open kitchen. Unlike at his former job, where he was way in the back, customers see him and complement him all day long."
Out on the ocean, Johnny catches everything from fresh opakapaka to ehu to onaga to ono along with various types of ahi.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Chef Jesse Robinson cooked for 10 years at Humuhumu Restaurant at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa before moving to Pita Paradise full time and he loves it.
"We do nightly specials," says Johnny. "Like fillet of opakapaka with citrus beurre blanc and red wine reduction served over garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. Cost is $21.95. By far, it's the most expensive thing in house."
Salads and kabobs may be topped with fresh catch, chicken, steak or free-range lamb and all are served with grilled pita. Or order a fresh fish pita stuffed with red bell pepper and more. Popular pupu are the hummus and the ziziki bread.
"Our fish prices never change," says Johnny's wife and partner, Christine Arabatzis. "It never fluctuates. We also decided to streamline our concept to offer counter service day and night (instead of sit down) and it keeps prices low."
In addition, since the fish is troll caught in Maui waters, it supports sustainability. "It's never been treated for color retention like Thai snapper or fish from Fiji or Tonga," says Johnny, "It's not cruelly treated or wrongly harvested. It's just really great fish with Greek and Italian flavors and it's inspired by the islands."
For more details, call Pita Paradise at 875-7679.