Last Thursday I had a rude awakening. A friend invited my friends and I out for pupus and drinks, only later informing us that we were headed to Vino. Thoughts of stuffy servers and suffocating surroundings floated through my head, followed by the serious anxiety that comes with my actually having to shower before leaving the house. But I relented, put on something other than a bikini and headed to Kapalua.
My worst fears were confirmed when we entered. Vino has a fine atmosphere, classy clientele and an extensive wine list—in other words, I stood out. But, it was not all that crowded, and we were ushered in and seated immediately. The smiling waitress came over with an extensive wine list. They have a selection of over 150 bottles, some of those are even pressurized so when people like me purchase by the glass, each one tastes like it has just been uncorked.
I was skeptical at first about this seemingly brilliant system, but she challenged me to a taste. How could I say no? Feeling a little indecisive with so many wines to choose from, she recommended the Chardonnay sampler: a selection of three two-ounce glasses of wine. Considering the wines were superb, this turned out to be a great deal.
As I settled into my seat, and wine, it became clear that Vino is not nearly as stodgy as I had imagined. Yes, there were a number of tourists there, but not everybody just arrived from a cruise ship.
The menu at Vino is large, primarily consisting of tapas, so it took a while for us to decide. Should we get the Crispy Sushi or the Rock Shrimp Fritto? The Oven Roasted Beet Salad, or the Heirloom Tomatoes and Crisp Fried Mozzarella? Fortunately there were a lot of us, so between six people we sampled nearly everything on the menu.
The Crispy Sushi was amazing, but the Silk Handkerchiefs (homemade pasta with basil pesto and oven roasted tomatoes) took my breath away. I was not too enthusiastic about ordering the Pork Tenderloin Roulade, but others were intrigued so it was added to our list. It turned out to be one of my favorite dishes. The Pork was tender, stuffed with mushrooms. It was, quite literally, super tasty. While each dish looked like an individual work of art, I thought the Jumbo Lump Crab and Ahi Dynamite were a little bland. Then again, not everything is going to be a hit.
All and all, the evening turned out to be a lot of fun, filled with amazing food. Given the superior caliber of the food, the prices are reasonable. Most of the dishes range from $8-15 and are generally small, but going with friends and ordering a selection is an economical and exciting way to experience this Maui treasure. Just don’t forget the wine—the restaurant is called Vino, after all. MTW