Café Del Vino, already known for its wonderful Italian/French cuisine, is now a source of great live entertainment. Owner Guido Hauwaerts wanted to bring something unique to Maui, and he certainly has.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant features keyboardist Marco, who’s also a talented accordion player. Each night he walks around the restaurant, serenading tables with his beautiful music and creating a charming atmosphere that (especially if you’re sharing a plate of spaghetti with someone special) can’t help but remind one of the classic Disney film Lady and the Tramp.
On Mondays, Dapper Dale, Diamond Di, Meow Meow L’Amour and a special guest perform dazzling homages to the big band days. Think Liza Minnelli in the 1972 film Cabaret. It’s a hilarious and intimate experience that might just leave you red in the face while the ravishing artists sing “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” to you and your loved ones tableside.
Or imagine eating a plate of beautiful primavera pasta while the troupe shakes maracas to the tune of “The Bare Necessities.” All the while, the service staff somehow keep their cool as the chaotic hilarity unfolds around them. It’s rare to experience something this unique and polished, and be treated to great cuisine.
The newest addition to the lineup happens on Tuesday nights. Those evenings feature the musical stylings of Prem Brosio and Yasha Taylor. Their jazz and blues duet features trumpet, flutes, saxophone and gorgeous vocals.
Hauwaerts said he’s been managing and opening restaurants for over 50 years. Getting his first taste of American culture at the World’s Fair in 1964, when he came over from Brussels to represent his country. Since then Guido has operated night clubs and fine French restaurants in Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Boston–serving the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack and Ella Fitzgerald. In fact, Café Del Vino has a “hall of fame” in the back covered with photos of Guido and his esteemed guests.
In the 1990s, Hauwaerts opened and helped run the Lobster Cove. A decade later, he helped run Boccalino. Café Del Vino is his newest venture, which he runs with his long-time friend and coworker Chef Danny Paquette.
The menu at Café Del Vino features classic French and Italian recipes. “All the sauces are from my mother’s recipes,” Hauwaerts said. “Everything must be consistent.”
One night I arrived, Paquette was preparing a lobster dish. Hauwaerts, who played rugby, spoke about how on a rugby team there are 15 men, “so back in Europe, I would do the lobster 15 different ways. Here I do it three different ways.”
Those ways are steamed lobster with drawn butter and lemon (what Hauwaerts called “American style”), Lobster Del Vino, which is steamed in its own juices served with light crème and a medley of curry and veggies and Lobster Fra Diavolo, which is served in a spicy homemade marinara. The menu is loaded with other classic French dishes like escargot, and one very popular item from Hauwaerts’ Belgium homeland: mussels served with French fries, mayonnaise, ketchup and aioli.
Café Del Vino is open every day but Sunday, from 4-9:30pm. Happy hour is from 4-6pm ($4 domestic beers and house wines), and there’s a three course Chef’s Menu for $34 that’s available from 5-7pm. Reservations can be made online or over the phone.
CAFE DEL VINO
300 Ma‘alaea Rd.
Photo: Wulf Pack