Breezy Paia bistro Jacques is synonymous with nightlife. On Fridays the place serves as a pau hana hub: martinis flow as a DJ—Del Sol or Boomshot, depending on the week—inspires those in attendance to get down ’til the unthinkable hours. They’ve even recently added music on other nights of the week, with the likes of the magnetic BrownChicken, BrownCow String Band taking the stage. As for food, the place is known for late night sushi.
As of three weeks ago, however, the party factor is now just part of the equation at Jacques. They’ve begun to serve lunch between 11am and 3pm, and they’ve added gourmet pizza to the menu (which they serve all day).
My associates and I decided to check out the new specialty during a recent lunch hour. Given my dietary restrictions (I’m vegan) I thought it prudent to bring along a number of omnivores, who would be able to consume and give me word on the quality of the pizza prepared with meat, cheese, etc.
Several sources told me that the bistro’s owner (the Jacques for whom the place is named) spent a long time perfecting the pizza crust recipe. It’s thin, crispy and accented with flecks of rosemary. Given my longstanding adoration of rosemary and despite my Chicago deep-dish roots, I was sold.
The establishment’s walls are lined with bamboo and accented with surf décor; Iz’s Facing Future radiated from the speakers. We perched ourselves on one of the elevated tables that offers an excellent view of the entire restaurant as well as the pedestrian traffic of the Paia leg of Hana Highway (which is arguably the Maui phenomenon that most warrants a sociological study).
I ordered the garden delight, sans cheese of course. It comes topped with tomato slices, chopped onions, kalamata olives and a few other veggies. What makes this pizza is the olive tapenade smeared atop the crust.
One colleague ordered a slice of the local style, which, as one would expect, was topped with pineapple and ham. In the spirit of the empiricism that dictates journalistic protocol I requested an avocado nori roll as an appetizer. Another colleague, a self-proclaimed fish and chips connoisseur, ordered said item (the lunch menu goes well beyond pizza and sushi, consisting also of burgers and the like).
Oh, and I ordered a Big Swell IPA. After all, beer and pizza go hand in hand, even if you’re a pansy vegan like me.
The avocado roll, of course, is a perpetual no-miss, so I won’t spend time laying out its many merits.
The cheeseless pizza, however, warrants substantial description, as many readers likely shudder at the thought of eating a piece of pizza lacking in animal influence. Jacques’ vegan pizza helps bolster the argument that most people decry vegan items out of conditioning and fear of the unknown (please, please, please do not make me launch into a diatribe on the standard American diet; I will if I have to). Long story short: the stuff is tasty, made especially so by the addition of the kalamata olives.
My colleague was pleased with her slice of local style, which arrives loaded with flavorful elements. As for dude’s fish and chips, he said they were “respectable.” This, coming from a man who, if he could, would probably have a laboratory for dissecting orders of the greasy coastal mainstay in search of the perfect combination of flake and crisp.
My overall assessment of the experience and the hot new menu item: a thumbs-up. With pink nail polish. MTW