THAT'S AMORE . . . Monday night, the full moon was in my eye, like a big pizza pie, and it was amore. Yes, I certainly felt the love as two new Italian restaurants opened on Maui.
Saltimbocca opened last Friday to the public for lunch and dinner in the former Waterfront location in Maalaea Harbor Shops. The chef is Mirko Inglese from Puglia, Italy, and he's already wowed me with scallops and jumbo prawns set on a bed of parmesan cream; rustic beet barlotto; cannelini bean soup; and veal saltimbocca with prosciutto and sage, white wine, roasted potatoes and ratatouille.
Italian cocktails include Strawberry Basil Smash, The Hot Blonde and the signature margarita. Desserts are made in house and include pot de creme with dark-chocolate mousse and balsamic reduction. Yum!
Jim and Masha Bateman just opened the new Saltimbocca at Maalaea Harbor Shops in the old location that was the Waterfront.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
"We love the food and the culture of Italy," says owner Jim Bateman, a Canadian who opened the restaurant with his wife, Masha Bateman, originally from Moscow. Talk about an international mix.
"Mealtimes are always a big event in Italy, where everyone is invited; the more the merrier," Jim continues. "It's what we at Saltimbocca strive to create for our guests: authentic food that transcends the plate and the palate to foster a warm and friendly experience for all."
Matteo's Osteria opened on the full moon Monday in what was to be the Bin 69 location at Wailea Town Center. It now serves lunch and dinner.
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"It's a tasting restaurant," says owner-chef Matteo Mistura, who hails from the Liguria region of Italy. Many of you know him as former Ferraro's chef at the Four Seasons, along with another Wailea restaurant bearing his name, before he took a hiatus in his native country.
"We have a lot of small plates, antipastini," he says. "For people to understand, it's tapas. We also have a selection of big plates and a few entrees."
While I haven't tried it yet, I hear he's wowing diners with muscoli ripieni (stuffed mussels), a popular dish in Cinqua Terre; arugula pasta with Kauai shrimp in puttanesca sauce; and isolana, a baked fish encrusted with potatoes, served with tomatoes and olives and lemon-scented bread crumbs. You may BYOB until the liquor license is approved. Wailea Wine in the same shops sells Montefalco Rosa from Umbria and Feudi De San Gregorio that owner Ed Mikesh says will pair well with Matteo's cuisine.
Whatever happened the old Waterfront gang, anyway? Mike Oura turned up as a server at Matteo's, for starters. So did Bobby Cambra, as a chef.
Former Waterfront partner Gary Smith is now the general manager at Humuhumunukunukuapua'a restaurant at Grand Wailea. For Christmas Day, Smith and his team will serve coriander-roasted duck with cassoulet of parsnip and lobster with accompaniments.
BITS AND PIECES . . . The Leis Family Class Act upstairs at the Maui Culinary Academy at UH Maui College in Kahului has been voted as One of The Top 100 restaurants in America by Open Table!
Imagine, a student-operated eatery that serves lunch only is one of two restaurants in the state to be given this prestigious award.
"We will reopen next semester on Friday, Jan. 24, with an American-themed menu," says Chef-Instructor Juli Umetsu. "Menus rotate, and our new schedule and reservations will be posted on our website at www.mauiculinaryacademy.com by January 10."
Mama's Fish House also won the Open Table Diners Choice Award as the No. 2 restaurant in the U.S. for 2013. KGMB News reported it, featuring owners Floyd and Doris Christenson. To put this win into perspective, the French Laundry came in at No. 9. Congrats!
Sushi lovers will want to get in on a rare treat from Friday to New Year's Eve when Raku, formerly Hakone at Makena Beach & Golf Resort, reopens its shoji screen doors just for the holidays.
Sushi chefs Ivan Bersamin and Tom Kamijo will team to make their legendary specialty rolls from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. each evening. Back by popular demand will be their sushi Moriawase with California roll, tuna, yellowtail, shrimp, eel and salmon roe with miso soup; rainbow rolls and sugar cane spider rolls. Raku will also pour top-shelf sake from Snow Maiden to Divine Droplets. Call 875-5888.
Sugar Cane Maui on Front Street in Lahaina is celebrating its grand opening with a party today that will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maui.
"I would like to ask for your help in benefiting this charity for the holiday season. We are asking for product donations or in-person spending at the party," says owner-chef Philippe Chin. "Dine with us on drink specials and pupus and enjoy the live music of Dezmen."