by Karee Carlucci
A partnership between one of Hawaii’s most admired chefs and best-known master sommeliers, Vino is the newest restaurant on Maui to celebrate the cuisine of Italy. It also lives up to the promise of its name—it’s a wine lover’s dream. Vino is the latest venture in chef D.K. Kodama’s expanding empire of restaurants—and if you know D.K.’s name from his renowned Sansei Seafood Restaurants & Sushi Bars, you may be thinking, "Italian?"
photos by Steve Brinkman
"Italian is probably the number-one restaurant cuisine [in the world], and everyone has their own idea of what it should be," says D.K. "This is our interpretation. I love Italian food myself and thought it would be a good challenge."
The menu manages to be both innovative and authentic. The Silk Handkerchiefs are squares of basil-pesto pasta folded with Roma tomatoes, toasted almonds and pecorino-romano cheese. Risotto of Jumbo Lump Crab and Sweet Rock Shrimp is served with braised fennel and swims in a spicy cioppino broth. The wonderfully tender Pork Chop Milanese comes in fig-marsala juice. Master sommelier Chuck Furuya lends his talent for uncovering incredible values to the wine list, which features more than 150 wines; since Vino serves over twenty wines by the glass, it’s a good idea to ask for recommended pairings. For example, Chuck found a rare Tuscany Rosato to complement the Silk Handkerchiefs, a full-bodied Pinot Grigio for the risotto and a ripe Australian Shiraz for the pork.
Vino, which is set in Kapalua, offers a dramatic view of the West Maui mountain range, and the Sansei service and warmth shine here, too. "We’re passionate about food and wine," says Chuck, "and we want to share that passion." Vino is open seven days a week, for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m.