The Greek Oven in Haiku is as close to eating in Greece as you can get. Adonis Kapsalis and his wife Santuzza moved to Maui to raise their children, but soon after decided that he could offer delicious food from his homeland.
“Making great food is really easy,” said Kapsalis. “You just need two things: the best ingredients, and the good recipes.”
Born in Greece, Kapsalis grew up with family recipes and the European style of cooking. “Everybody cooks, food is a very high priority–it’s number one,” he said. Unlike the U.S., where food is often used to fulfill a hunger, the Greeks take their cooking very seriously.
“We strongly believe that the secret to making good, healthy food starts with the basics,” he said.
The Greek Oven sources everything they can from local farmers. They also make their own bread and beef patties in house. Their tzatziki sauce is house-made, but they import olive oil from Greece. Adonis’ mother, in Greece, also sends them fresh oregano for their recipes.
Kapsalis frequently walks through the restaurant, asking the customers how they’re enjoying their meals. During our interview, we were stopped by a couple from New York who wanted to express their thanks.
Greek Oven offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, with keiki options, smoothies and Big Wave Kombucha on tap.
The breakfast, available everyday from 8am to 2pm, offers organic egg omelettes, made in traditional Greek style, with imported sheep feta cheese, Kalamata olives, oregano and local tomatoes. They also bake croissants fresh in the morning and offer French toast with house-made banana bread.
Greek yogurt is another option. A popular supermarket item for many, Kapsalis believes their Greek yogurt is the best because of the simple, properly made ingredients. The secret to the yogurt is the imported honey. After tasting a spoonful of it, I was sold. Most of the imported ingredients such as the olive oils and honey can also be purchased to take home.
“As soon as you see ‘processed’ on the label, you know they put the worst stuff in it,” said Kapsalis. “Here at the Greek Oven, we take pride in the ingredients.”
The Greek Oven also offers a large array of sandwiches, paninis and wraps. There’s Portuguese sausage, vegetarian wraps, burgers and even a Mahi pita. I tried the Lamb gyro, with Australian lamb. After baking in the oven for three hours with lemon, olive oil and oregano, they pull it out and it practically falls off the bone. Then the meat is shredded and packed into a house-made pita, covered in tzatziki, local tomatoes and onions.
Most of the sandwiches can also be made into plate lunches with Greek style potatoes on the side and a house or Greek salad.
I also tried the Moussaka. It’s a classic Greek dish that requires three days to prepare. The kitchen staff makes multiple trays everyday to keep up with demand. It has layered beef, eggplant and potatoes, all covered in a savory béchamel sauce and then then baked in the oven. It’s filling and delicious.
Kapsalis and his team offer dinner service on Friday and Saturday nights. The dinner plates are still based on classic Greek recipes, but offered in a more traditional sit-down style, with a server doing table side orders. The Greek Oven will also be offering a special five-course dinner menu for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Call the number below for reservations.
“We want people to feel good when they leave,” said Kapsalis. “Feel good in the stomach, but also know they’ve eaten something healthy. We saw an opportunity [with the Greek Oven], and we want to show people what really good food actually is.”
THE GREEK OVEN
810 Kokomo Rd., Haiku
Photos: Sean M. Hower