- by Charles Racine
There’s no better place for getting out of dodge and falling into love in Kaanapali than Basil Tomatoes.
It’s hard to talk about because I want to keep it a secret, but it’s behind the Kaanapali Golf Course, and adjacent to the Royal Lahaina Resort. Not exactly where you’d expect to find old Italia, but there it is.
As the music plays in the background, Frank Sinatra and his cohorts remind you to be a gentleman to your lady friend. Stop at the bar and grab a drink before being seated and try and get a booth overlooking the golf course. Just beyond the greens, catch sight of Black Rock jetting out of the ocean. Basil Tomatoes is only open for four hours from 5-9 p.m. during the sunset show, so make reservations if you plan to arrive after six.
Sunset Special, 5:00-6:00 pm, 50% off 2nd Entree of Equal or Lesser Value(Some exclusions may apply)
Now seated in a tall private booth you can get a little closer and enjoy some vino. Out comes the tomatoes topped with basil; looks like you’re in the right place!
Basil Tomatoes House Salad, fresh vine-ripened Olowalu Nui tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese, Maui onions and fresh basil. Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. $14.00
Enjoyment coupled with romance is the theme of this place. Take a few hours off from the minutia of the world. Let’s start with some of the recommended appetizers.
The Famous Stuffed Artichoke, fresh steamed and stuffed with fresh garlic, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and gorgonzola cheese. $14.50
Carpaccio, thin slices of raw filet mignon arrayed on crisp Kula greens, topped with parmesan and a drizzle of our vinaigrette. $18.00
Bruschetta, with garlic, Olowalu Nui tomatoes, olive oil and basil. $12.00
This time around we let our waiter Andrew take care of us and he held nothing back with an entourage of entrees. During which he talked about how the restaurant hosts a number of the resorts nearby, and offers an experience unparalleled by others, with a black tie feel and fine dining experience, though you won’t feel out of place sporting a Tommy Bahama and slippers.
The surprise of the day was the Calamari Steak Picatta. The Manager pounds the calamari steak in the morning, at lunch, and at 5:00 pm. The calamari is so tender you don’t even need a knife. Sautéed with lemon butter, capers, fresh garlic and white wine, served with linguine $30.00, Chicken Picatta $28.50: Veal Picatta $32.00
Lasagna, with sheets of homemade pasta layered with beef, pork, Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, the homemade pomodoro sauce, baked with mozzarella and parmesan cheese, $26.00
And can’t forget a side of straight Penne Bolognese with Meatball, the classic tomato & meat sauce with beef, pork, Italian sausage and fennel, $26.00.
I’ve never been into sweets so I typically skip dessert, but Andrew wouldn’t have it, as he brought Tiramisu, an Italian classic made with espresso and brandy soaked ladyfingers, layered between rich mascarpone and sprinkled with cocoa, $12.00.
Don’t miss the Bananas Foster, the House Specialty. Macadamia Nut Ice Cream covered with sliced bananas caramelized in brandy, butter and brown sugar, $14.00. From the reaction of my dining companion it’s a little like romance on a plate.
The atmosphere makes you feel a side of Maui that sometimes gets lost among all the activities, sun bathing, and mai tai’s; the abiding sense of love and connection with the one you’re with.
Some people wait their entire life to come out to Maui just once, if that’s the case for you, don’t leave without trying this spot. If you do live here, this should be a date night standard.
That way you won’t end up like the couple dining across from us: such a romantic environment and they stared blankly at one another without speaking. Had they been together forever? Was there’s nothing left to say, the mystery gone, all the questions answered? Did they even look at Black Rock, the tiki torches, the glorious sunset? Maybe it was just a bad day because man, if you aren’t feeling romantic at Basil Tomato’s well…
Since I don’t want to end up that way, I’ll continue to take some time over wine at romantic Italian restaurants like this one.