ITALIAN FOOD INVASION. . . West Mauians may soon enjoy authentic Italian cuisine of the pizza and pasta kind at Sale Pepe, targeted to open next Thursday in the old Kentucky Fried Chicken location in Lahaina (by Thai Chef).
Mike and Qiana Di Bari have done an amazing job on the redo of their lunch and dinner pizzeria cucina (pizza kitchen), with marble, woods and imported fabrics. You won't recognize it as the old KFC.
"Mike was born in Milano, but his family is from the south, close to Naples," says Quiana, from the Big Apple. "He is a certified pizzaiolo, classically trained in the art of pizza making."
Qiana and Mike Di Bari are targeting to open Sale Pepe next Thursday in Lahaina. The name means “Salt and Pepper” in Italian.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
The two met in Brooklyn, and he has 11 restaurants under his belt; together they have two, one called VaBeh. They married at The Ritz here.
"We imported a pasta machine and a brick oven from Italy," says Mike. "They are our two babies. I will do a small menu and rotate it daily."
Appetizers include eggplant parmesan and meatballs. Pastas may be matriciana rigatoni with pancetta, Maui onion and pecorino cheese.
Got restaurant / dining-event scoop? Call Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342; or email email@example.com.
It's hard to miss construction at the former David Paul's on Front Street in Lahaina. Pi Artisan Pizzeria will take over part of the massive space and Skechers shoe store will take the other portion this summer in the mall now named the Outlets of Maui.
MEALS ON THE OCEAN. . . A new gourmet dinner sail is amazing patrons on the Alii Nui, departing Maalaea Harbor Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The good news is: Kamaaina now get two-for-one deals on all sails aboard the luxury vessel.
Yet even better news is that this particular dinner cruise is far from a "cattle call," as some say in the tourist industry about being jammed in like sardines on a cruise. Oh, contraire. This is the Royal Feast, and only 36 people are pampered on a boat certified for 100.
One diner called it the "floating Mama's Fish House of the ocean." The concept took a year to develop, and the plentiful food ranges from jumbo tiger prawns to Caprese skewers to prime rib cut to order. Call 875-0333.
Another option for a marine meal and then some will be on the Kai Kanani sailing yacht from 5 to 7 p.m. May 31. This monthly dinner excursion tempts with a Pacific Rim wine and food tasting by Capische, along with some of the restaurant's signature dishes prepared by its executive chef Chris Kulis. I know this guy can put together a meal at sea, because I saw him cook a $500-a-plate from the back of his truck one time, and he did it with aplomb.
"We do this about once a month, and it's always a different theme," says Melissa Glennon, marketing manager. "Last month was Argentina, and we've done Spanish and Greek themes. We still have live music." Call 879-7218.
BITS AND PIECES. . .The old Dairy Queen building in Kahului has finally opened as Plantation Grindz after a much-anticipated renovation. The parking lot was full when I drove by this week.
"We're now serving local food for breakfast, lunch and dinner," says owner Bobby Sales. "We've rebuilt a walkup counter and feature umbrellas and picnic tables outside. "We've brought in old-time chefs from Ooka and Dairy Queen. I'm gathering all of the old chefs. Hopefully, we can drain their knowledge."
Sales goes on to say that Plantation Grindz serves food like Dairy Queen did, and preserves Filipino cultural cuisine. "It's just like on the plantation -all mixed up - with varied ethnic cuisines."
Pioneer Inn Grill & Bar in Lahaina had such a success with its tapas or "small plates" menu during the Front Street Jazz & Blues Walk, it's continuing it from 3 to 9 p.m. daily. Try everything from ceviche to kalua pork sliders to seared ahi with Asian slaw.
Calling all tequila lovers. David Ravandi, founder of 123 Organic Tequila, will appear at an organic tequila pairing dinner Saturday at Sangrita's. Savor Paris Nabavi's oyster shooters, scallop ceviche, seafood rellenos, lamb barbacoa and chocolate tamales.