As I sit and write this, Michael and I are over half-way through our Maui vacation. We’ve done quite a bit so far; we’ve seen the beach, laid by the pool, visited some of Maui’s most notable landmarks and eaten a slightly ridiculous amount food. This is pretty typical for us when we travel — we joke that half the reason we vacation is so we can eat. But seriously, that’s why. No matter where we visit, we’re true foodies, always on the hunt for the best dish, the most amazing atmosphere and an overall meal experience we won’t soon forget. We found all of that at Taverna.
Situated in the lush green landscape of Kapalua, Hawaii, Taverna is a true gem. The space is equal parts bar and restaurant, designed by partners Chris Kaiwi and Chef Roger Stettler to be a true gathering place for local residents and vacationers alike.
Michael and I started our Taverna journey at the bar, where bartender Daryl mixed us up some tasty concoctions from on and off the craft cocktail menu. I started with 51 Shades, a tasty mixture of Aviation Gin, Ruffino Prosecco, lavender, honey, lemon, Crème de Violette, egg white and Teapot Bitters, and Michael started with a bourbon drink that Daryl mixed up based on Michael’s preferences.
While there, we learned about how Taverna squeezes all their own juices and makes their own infusions for the drinks. We tasted so many I don’t even remember them all, but they were seriously delicious! For our next drink, Daryl let us sample a still-unnamed apple, cinnamon cocktail he’s been dreaming up for the holidays. It was so delicious we both ordered one. At this point we both knew one thing for sure: Taverna knows their cocktails!
When our table was ready, we headed into the dining room for a cozy seat by the window, overlooking the golf course that Taverna sits within. Our server Daniel quickly greeted us and began to tell us all about the menu — particularly how Taverna makes pretty much everything from scratch each day.
He provided his suggestions, and brought us some incredibly fresh homemade bread with local olive oil and Hawaiian sea salt for dipping. It took everything in me not to eat the entire loaf of bread!
I proceeded to order a caprese salad and Michael a bowl of gazpacho. I love a good caprese salad, and the Taverna caprese was easily one of the best I’ve had. Everything was seriously fresh! Of course, Michael and I each tasted each other’s choice, so I also got to experience the amazing Gazpacho all’ Aragosta. I’m typically not a fan of cold soup, but this gazpacho was so flavorful. I could have eaten a bowl myself!
For the main course, I ordered the Casarecce Pugliesi, which our server advised was his personal favorite on the menu…assuming you like gorgonzola of course. Between that and the fact that all the pasta is homemade, I knew I had to have it. Michael ordered the pesce del giorro (fish of the day) with eggplant agrodolce. OMG you guys, both dishes were SO good.
I knew the food would be great in Maui, but I don’t think I knew it would be this great. And I definitely didn’t realize I’d have some of the best Italian food of my life in Hawaii of all places. I grew up in the Northeast, an area known for its phenomenal Italian food, after all.
The other thing about Taverna that’s great is their portion sizes. While Michael managed to eat his entire dish, I grabbed a box for the rest of my pasta so I could save some room for dessert.
We ordered the spumoni to keep it light, plus some coffee/espresso of course. We also sampled some classic Italian dessert wine for good measure. At this point, I was sufficiently full and happy! Taverna easily became one of my favorite restaurants ever.
There are many restaurants that do a great job with one or two things. You know the ones — the restaurant with interesting cocktails that leaves a little to be desired when it comes to the food, or the restaurant with amazing food but sub-par service. I have never found a restaurant as well rounded as Taverna! Literally, partners Chris and Roger (and their amazing team) have considered every detail. From the custom-infused cocktails and homemade food, to the knowledgeable team delivering top notch service, Taverna truly has thought of everything.
As I told co-owner Chris on our way out, Taverna definitely set a high bar for food for the rest of our Hawaiian vacation. If you’re visiting Maui, Taverna is a must see!