Bistro Casanova celebrated their one year anniversary with a fete fundraiser for Maui Coastal Land Trust.
Executive Chef David Gemberling flexed his creativity on this menu that focused on the evening’s theme of “We are One.” Turns out the theme was a play on words, not only meaning that the Bistro is celebrating one year, but also that the establishment’s philosophy of cuisine is being “one” with Maui, sourcing products locally that are sustainable to our environment. Then the Maui Coastal Land Trust also announced the that they are working on a merger with three other outer island land trust organizations to become a statewide Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. Another “We are One” moment.
Owner Giovanni Steven Capelli’s dedication to environment and Maui was very apparent in his short eulogy to Bisto Casanova’s turning 1. My favorite lesson of the evening was that his mother taught him that it was important to leave things the way you found them. If only more of us practiced that simple mantra in life about replenishing and restoring things.
Back to Gemberling’s menu. These guys know the key to getting a great cocktail party going: champagne and bellinis. The amuse bouche is defined on the menu as “entertain your mouth” and they certainly did.
When I reached my bellini limit the staff adeptly slipped me the cocktail menu. The very first item on there is the Haiku Rose and I never got passed that the rest of the evening, it was really good. Van Gogh acai blueberry vodka and blueberry puree made for an interesting and dark drink.
The dinner was served family style, every table in the restaurant was embellished with big share platters of food, it was a lovely way to eat breaking bread at the tables with friends. The bread baskets are a wonder here, the bread sticks are phenomenal. I cant stop eating them, salty, crunchy and addictive. First course was a colorful mix of organic assorted vegetables. I am very partial to beets and the beet salad did not disappoint, lots of cubes of their tender seasoned purple meat. The home made dressings were mild, letting the flavors of the fresh lettuce and tomatoes take control of your palate. For that moment I was one with the produce of Maui.
Next up for second course, inky black linguine served with a melange of seafood. The mussels, calamari, scallops, clams and shrimp tumbled off of the black mountain of linguine. This was the most beautiful dish of the night served next to one of my favorite dishes of the night, the pumpkin gnocchi. I had never tried gnocchi, I just never gravitated towards it myself, and no one had every served it to me either. Or if they did it wasn’t memorable. The gnocchi was served in a sage butter sauce with truffle oil. The sage leaves were warm, buttery and toasted. I would wrap a sage leaf around the bite of gnocchi and then go to gnocchi heaven. Texture wise they are like a little dumpling, a little like dough and a little like pasta.
The fish course featured Mahi Mahi mini filets graced little triangles of foccacia. After that red meat was on the way. The bright green mustard sauce on the maui beef was extraordinary, really bringing out the flavor of the beef. The venison stew was one of the best preparations of the meat I have seen, fork tender chunks of meat, and the sauce contained little berries that were a sweet surprise to the dish.
Profiteroles as the grand finale to the meal was appropriate. These bite size pastries are made to fit any appetite. You can’t resist just one, but then you can’t eat just one either. Filled with a custard and drizzled with really good chocolate, I kept saying these will be my last one. Famous last words at the dessert table.
About Jen Russo
I write lifestyle and culinary columns for MauiTime. I love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.