Even Zeus would want to descend from Mount Olympus to feast on the appetizer platter fit for the gods. It's piled with grilled pita slices, hummus, falafels, bruschetta, tziziki dip and olive tapenade.
Of course, Zeus would then want to take a nap afterward (fully sated like a mere mortal), because that's what this mere mortal wanted to do after indulging in all of the ethnic wonders on the plate.
But no. Hedonism reigned as we crunched fresh mixed greens, tomato, cucumbers, onion, feta and kalamata olives on the American Greek salad; and slurped linguini topped with a meaty house-made pork and beef Bolognese with parmesan cheese.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Christine Arabatzis showcases an appetizer platter fit for the gods along with an American Greek salad and house-made pasta Bolognese.
Wait a minute. Pasta Bolognese in a Greek restaurant? Well, the new Pita Paradise Mediterranean Bistro features a taste of Italian, too.
"We feature Greek and Italian foods along with fresh fish caught by my husband on his boat, as well as free-range lamb," says Christine Arabatzis, who owns Wailea's newest restaurant with her husband, Johnny Arabatzis. It's a bigger and more artfully decorated version of their first outlet, Pita Paradise in Kihei.
Located ground level in the new Wailea Gateway Center (where Peter Merriman's new pub will open later this year), Pita Paradise Mediterranean Bistro boasts old-world plaster walls by Christy Scanland, a colorful mural by Annika Banko and Italian glass-style vases and sconces by Maui artist Rick Strini. It's got 100 seats inside and out, a nice lounge area, 12-seat bar, booths and high tops.
There are water features, and even your drinking water is triple-carbon filtered and served in beautiful, eco-friendly glass bottles from Italy.
"It's a really fun, family-style restaurant," says Christine. "One of the reasons we decided to expand here is because of convenience. There's plenty of parking, sit-down service for lunch and dinner, and a full bar. Our bartenders are really friendly, and it makes all the difference."
But the day starts with breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. with hotel-lobby style service, where you walk up to the counter to order and get your coffee.
"We have baristas brewing coffee here in the morning and an in-house pastry chef baking muffins, banana bread, cookies and scones. We also offer traditional baklava as well as baklava ice-cream cake."
Lunch and dinner are both sit-down service as the young couple want to give customers "more of an experience for business lunches and date night."
"Our lunch menu includes pita sandwich favorites from our Kihei restaurant," says Christine. "Our casual bistro and bar also serves new dinner selections such as moussaka, spanakopita, pita-crusted chicken parmesan and seafood risotto. Of course, Johnny's passion is boating, so we have the freshest fish around."
Johnny also has a passion for the restaurant industry. The son of Johnny "the Greek" Arabatzis, he grew up in his dad's various restaurants. (The elder Johnny ran the Greek Bistro in Kihei before retiring. Now he catches fish for his son's restaurant on his own boat and bakes the baklava.)
"Johnny started 'working' as a kid, collecting dropped money from behind the booths," laughs Christine. "Then he was dishwasher, a cook and a manager. He really has got a lot of entrepreneurship in his blood."
Christine got her restaurant experience at Four Seasons. The two were St. Anthony High School sweethearts, and it's evident that they put lots of love and their energy into their latest endeavor. Zeus would approve.
* What: Pita Paradise Mediterranean Bistro in Wailea is the bigger, sit-down sister version of Pita Paradise in Kihei Kalama Village.
* Where: It's located ground level of the new Wailea Gateway Center at the top of Wailea Ike Drive (and at the end of Piilani Highway).
* Ethnic trends: Mediterranean fare is all the rage these days. Celebs such as Lady Gaga and Cynthia Nixon like to credit their physiques to power foods such as hummus - packed with vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids.
* Belly dancing: Twisted Hips will perform at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday with a harem of three dancers, named Karli, Kristyn and Brooke.
* Breakfast: Served from 7 to 11 a.m. daily, it features barista and pastry chef offerings along with egg with feta and basil pitas, Mediterranean skillets, and three-egg frittatas. Pastries cost $1 to $4; side of fruit, $4; entrees, $7 to $11; keiki menu, $6 to $7.
* Lunch: Served daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Highlights are Caesar salads, chicken parmesan and pita sandwiches such lamb gyro, spicy falafel and Johnny's fresh catch served on chopped Mediterranean slaw. Appetizers cost $5 to $15; entrees $9 to $14.
* Dinner: Served daily from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Menu highlights are seafood pasta, calamari, veggie delights, spanakopita, and moussaka. Appetizers range from $5 to $15; pastas, $17 to $28; entrees from $18 to market.
* Executive Chef: Jesse Robinson.
* Happy Time: Kicks off Sept. 1 daily from 3 to 6 p.m. Get $3 domestic beer, $4 imported beer and $1 off of mixed drinks and wine. Enjoy tapas menu and live entertainment.
* Wine list: Expert Fotis Tassopoulos of Better Brand's Grand Crew created it from the most popular wines of Wailea with good prices, to boot.
* Takeout: To-go orders are taken at the bar at the front of the restaurant. During dinner, orders can be brought to your car, Outback style.
* For reservations: Call 879-7177.