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Enjoying pizza and gelato in Paia

Paia Gelato serves a colorful selection of gelato and sorbet. AYA GANZ photo

The north shore of Maui has an epic spot for pizza and fun. Flatbread Co. focuses on utilizing the island’s amazing organic produce to prepare its delicious salads, drinks, desserts and, of course, wood-fired pizzas.

Located in the center of Paia, Flatbread has the perfect island atmosphere for families and groups, or even just a solo sit at the bar. Walking in, I felt right at home with the buzz of ocean lovers and the smell of the kiawe wood burning in the pizza oven. In operation for 13 years, Flatbread serves sizzling, hot, classic and non-traditional pizzas to the delight of locals and tourists alike. Their bar is adorned with surf memorabilia and includes Maui’s best-loved local liquors, juices and beer. They even have fresh pineapple juice, and it is one of the only places I’ve found that serves fresh-squeezed lemonade.

“Real good food served by real good people,” is their motto. One of the best and most notable aspects of Flatbread is the fundraising it does for the community. Every week, Flatbread supports a local charity or nonprofit by highlighting them and sharing with them a percentage of the evening’s profits from pizza sales. Tuesday nights are benefit nights and give us another great reason to eat pizza.

Flatbread serves an amazing gluten-free dough made from cauliflower; crisp, thin and incredibly delicious! A must try. The salad dressing on all those local organic salads is also made in-house; tangy and original. They soak the cores of pineapples (after the chef cuts out the pieces used on the likes of their Mopsy pizza: local kalua pork and pineapple), and combine it with tamari, orange juice and a secret blend of spices and oil. I love it!

I started my meal off with their beautiful house salad: baby field greens piled high with fresh shaved beets and carrots, cucumber, sesame seeds, and a delicious dollop of local Surfing Goat Dairy goat cheese: perfectly tangy and creamy. This was a great starter and a palate cleanser if you want to try several kinds of pizza, which naturally I did!

Flatbread’s menu includes pizzas without traditional red sauce. I ordered one called the Pele Pesto, a scene stealer. Its sauce is a pesto made with basil, macadamia nuts and garlic over a local Surfing Goat cheese blend that includes mozzarella and parmesan. Kalamata olives, garlic and fresh herbs top it off. The crust was on point. Crispy and soft! I also tried the classic pepperoni; an all-time favorite and perfect, not too oily and the pepperoni was spicy and well-proportioned. A fantastic slice to dunk into one of the sauce sides like their marinara, or if you can take the heat, Flatbread makes its own roasted ghost pepper hot sauce.

* Flatbread Co., 89 Hana Highway, Paia.

*****

I wasn’t finished with Paia just yet, so I headed back out to the street to find something sweet. Paia Gelato was just the place. The main difference between ice cream and gelato is the percentage of butterfat. While ice-cream’s main ingredients include milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks, the secret to the special taste of gelato is that there is less cream and no egg. This leads to a smaller percentage of butterfat.

Since 2007, this adorable family-owned parlor has worked with local island flavors. Paia Gelato also offers a splendid sandwich selection as well as their gelato, sorbeto, espresso drinks and other treats. Their 12 gelato flavors include: Surfing Goat Dairy Lilikoi Lark, Kula Strawberry, Big Island Macadamia Nut Crunch, Sea Mist (with mint tea and lemongrass), Coffee Crunch, and my favorite, the Sandy Beach, which is peanut butter, coconut candy and lava sea salt. If this place doesn’t melt your heart, no place will.

* Paia Gelato. 99 Hana Highway No. C, Paia.