During breakfast and dinner, the views continue to make as much of a splash as the gourmet cuisine and the attentive service at Sarento's on the Beach.
Look out from the open-air establishment and you will find Kahoolawe, Molokini and Lanai islands, the West Maui Mountains and Pu'u O Lai cinder cone from its prime spot on Keawakapu Beach.
Now, an intimate happy hour is drawing in customers at this Kihei fine-dining spot and people can't believe the fabulous prices and over-the-top tastes.
Bartender Deedee Lewis cracks black pepper on the New Zealand mussels.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
"We kicked off our happy hour earlier this year and we run it from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily," says Patricia Blackburn, director of sales and marketing of the Tri-Star Restaurant Group, the umbrella company for Sarento's in Kihei, Nick's Fish Market at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea, and Son'z at Swan Court at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali.
"We think it's a great way to give back to the community, to let people try Sarento's if they haven't been here before," Blackburn continues.
Corporate Chef Geno Sarmiento created the happy hour menu, and all of the pupu are easy on the pocketbook, ranging in price from $7 to $10.
"You'll find our happy hour items on the dinner menu. But at happy hour, the prices are like around 50 percent off, a substantial savings," she says.
The prices are for dine-in customers only and you may grab a seat at the bar or at one of the nearby tables.
Of course, Sarento's offer discounts on its well drinks, domestic and imported beers, and Italian and other wines by the glass from its award-winning list to pair with your happy hour pupu.
On a recent visit, we dove into the crisp on the outside and tender inside calamari fritti. We dipped the al dente pieces into tomato caper sauce and lemon aioli like there was no tomorrow.
The New Zealand mussels were layered, crusted in cashews, and served with lemon, garlic and bruschetta, and then drizzled with balsamic reduction. They were satisfying and full of flavor.
But the grilled asparagus whole wheat pizza was the surprise winner, topped with baby arugula and fried egg with a parmesan and yuzu dressing.
Also recommended are the new sesame-seared ahi served rare with a crunchy falafel and Greek yogurt-tahini sauce, a nod to owner Aaron Placourakis' Greek heritage; lump crab cakes; Osso Buco pot stickers; and fresh portobello Napoleon layered with eggplant and bufala mozzarella.
"Our daily breakfast runs from 7 to 11 a.m. and we recently added crepes," Blackburn says. "We added them as a Mother's Day
special. The response was so overwhelming, they made the menu. We also put binoculars at every breakfast table, so you may take in the views. Even after whale season, you can still see spinner dolphins and turtles and all kinds of fun things."
You may call Sarento's at 875-7555.