MAX-IMIZING HAIKU . . .The crisp and crunchy buffalo chicken wings with the awesome sauce are reason enough to go there. The open-mic music and the cool, green-tea walls also beckon.
We're talking about the new Max in Haiku, which took over both of the former Vasi's locations near the Haiku Post Office in April. The owners are originally from Dana Point, Calif., and they got the chicken wing recipe from a popular dive in Redondo Beach.
"People are always coming in and saying they are craving the chicken wings," says owner John Graziano. "We want to be known as a fun, family restaurant, where you will feel comfortable wearing anything from board shorts to formal attire. This is becoming a social gathering place where the diners all hug each other."
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Owners of the new Max in Haiku are John Graziano and his wife, Cristina. Argentinian Chef de Cuisine Claudio “Negro” Gallea gives the shaka on what’s cooking nightly.
As for the food, "we don't want to be pigeon-holed into being an Italian restaurant," says John. "We have Shanghai egg rolls, Greek salads, barbecue baby back ribs, and even seared ahi salad with ginger-wasabi dressing. Of course, our pizzas and pastas are quite popular."
Chef de Cuisine is Claudio "Negro" Gallea and we hear his hunky Argentinian friends all like to dine en masse later in the evening, around 9. (This is a hint for you single women out there.) Musicians who perform include the Hula Honeys and Steve Sargenti. Max even delivers all the way out to Twin Falls.
BITS AND PIECES . . . I like parties that start early, but this one takes the cake! The second annual Triple Crown Party will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mulligan's on the Blue in Wailea and it sounds like fun.
Mint Juleps, beer and champagne will flow and those who dress up in Triple Crown attire will only have to pay $10 for the food bar. Those who don't want to dress that way will pay $15 per person.
"Gentlemen, it is that time of year to see our beautiful ladies dress up in sundresses and big hats," says Mulligan's owner Mike O'Dwyer. "Ladies, now is the time to get your man to lay down the masculinity - and put on those bright pastel colors. Attendees may also wear seersucker and even jockey outfits. The Preakness starts at 10:30 a.m. sharp, so be there or be square."
Another dress-up restaurant party will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at The Melting Pot in Lahaina. Ladies may wear their favorite bride's maid dress and enter to win the best-dressed contest for a $50 gift certificate. Wedding merchants will abound, and there will be drink specials, door prizes, upbeat music and a four-course fondue extravaganza priced at $35 per person.
A collection of vintage surfboards will be on display at the Green Banana Cafe in Paia starting Sunday and you may order specialty coffees, house-brewed chai and the famous banana pudding as you check it out.
The South Shore Tiki Lounge in Kihei offers 25 percent off on all food and drink for kamaaina from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. "Despite the doom and gloom, we have been killing it lately," says owner Alma Tassi. "Thanks for everyone who drops by and gives us some love."
Denny's will draw in the local crowds again, this time at its Kihei location, with its 99-cent loco moco special from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 19 and 26.
Ten Maui restaurants will participate in the Chefs on the Beach event from 2 to 6 p.m. May 30 at Honua Kai Lani in Makena. It's a Rotary Club of Maui fundraiser for Maui nonprofits. Tickets are available at Topaz in Kihei, Caf Marc Aurel and Hawaii Super Liquor. Or call 878-6356 . . . Speaking of Cafe Marc Aurel in Wailuku, come join Gene and Shea Argel from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and munch from the tapas menu or the fabulous brie platter. Of course, there are many varieties of wine . . . At "Art of the Chanter" at the MACC Saturday, indulge in mahimahi with hapa rice and salad and more by Alexanders Famous Fish.
* You may reach dining editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342.