The sunlight bathed, palm-fortified fairways of the beautifully landscaped Kaanapali Golf Course wend around the slatted windows of Paradise Grill, filling each portal with greenery backed by sunsets and rolling ocean. It's a stunning venue in which to enjoy some casual island culture. A high-vaulted diagonal ceiling stretches overhead, lending the eatery a modern feel. The first-floor bar boasts 11 flat-screen TVs and a quieter, second-floor dining room is where guests slice into ocean-fresh fish or pull gooey slices of handmade Round Table pizzas. The chefs whip up breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night meals affectionately called Buenas Noshes.
For more than half a century, Round Table Pizza's chefs have been rolling out fresh, made-from-scratch dough, sprinkling it with a signature three-cheese blend, and baking the delectable disks to a golden brown. The most popular pie is King Arthur's Supreme, a benevolent despot that rules over mouths with pepperoni, italian and portuguese sausages, dry salami, and various veggies. Round Table's chefs don't stop at these specialty pies, though?they also can customize build-your-own pizzas by slathering dough in one of five sauces such as zesty red or creamy garlic, and then layering on your choice of more than 30 toppings.
First-time guests to Baci Bistro might think that co-owner Bill Duval is psychic. On any given night, he greets visitors at the door, addressing most by name. His friendliness is hardly supernatural, though—it's a shared habit between himself and his wait staff: remembering the names of returning guests. Some of the servers have even been stocking their mental rolodexes since the bistro first opened in 1997, when designers first planted the red, puckering-lips logo around the foliage-flanked interior.
Along with the warmth of its employees, Baci Bistro's signature element is freshness. Executive chef and co-owner Reza Azeri stands by the appetizing simplicity of made-to-order meals, prepping sauces that harmonize with pastas instead of masking their flavor. Ravioli remains the house specialty, whether it's stuffed with lobster or the surprise ingredient of the day, and meat entrees decorate veal, pork, chicken, and fish with vegetables and wine sauces. The menu also allows children to mix and match their choices of sauces and noodles rather than forcing them to eat like adults, who enjoy wine sauces and wipe their mouths with business cards.
The menu at Prima is split into two sections: Pizza and Not Pizza. In the latter, you'll find a dozen or so shareable treats, such as brussels sprouts with prosciutto and oven-roasted radicchio. But it's the pizzas here that steal the show, both on the menu and as chefs pull them from the restaurant's massive brick oven.
Inside that oven, local kiawe smoking wood cooks the handcrafted pies to thin and crispy perfection. Those include pizzas like the popular Spicy Meatball with arugula and chillies or the Funghi with cremini mushrooms and herbs. The restaurant strives to work with more local products too, as the kitchen counter, tables, and bar all consist of recycled woods and most ingredients come from local sources. It's no surprise then, that the menu changes seasonally, just like the location of Hawaii's islands. But Food & Wine editors had no trouble finding chef Kevin Lee, who they named among the magazine's 2014 Best New Chef finalists.
Sarento's is a bit of a paradox. In the dining room on the 30th floor of the Ilikai Tower, the views out of the floor-to-ceiling windows are quintessential Honolulu: Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, and the famous skyline that's graced more postcards than the words "I'll come home when I feel like it." But look down at the food on your table, and you'll be transported to the other side of the world. The chefs here pay tribute to Italy and the greater Mediterranean region, crafting dishes such as escargot, grilled veggies, and homemade pastas with filet mignon meatballs.
Meals often wind down over live piano music, and pair nicely with a selection from the wine cellar, which holds around 3,000 Old World vintages. Visitors can also try a glass alongside more casual fare at the wine and tapas bar.
When Gilbert Sakaguchi opened the original Magoo's Pizza on the Waikiki strip back in 1970, he had high hopes. But in no way could he have predicted the kind of success the tiny pizzeria would have, eventually fielding more than 400 orders a day. Recently, Sakaguchi and his son Marshall have taken their much-loved pizza to the streets via the Magoo's food truck. Equipped with a giant oven, the vehicle roams the roads as chefs prepare fresh pies and sandwiches baked to a golden crisp.