Fabiani’s: Go For the Pastries, Pizza

October 2, 2012, 2:47 PM HST · Updated October 2, 4:27 PM
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Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef, previously working in Portland, Oregon. She offers her blunt assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.

Michelle Fabiani’s stunning and extensive array of fresh-made pastry offerings. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

By Vanessa Wolf

Tucked off Lipoa Street, smack dab between South Kihei Road and the Piilani Highway, Fabiani’s Bakery and Pizzeria is a little tricky to find.

The restaurant is in part a family affair. Owners Lorenzo and Michelle Fabiani met on Maui. Italian-born Lorenzo was the maitre’d at Matteos, and Michelle has been the pastry chef at the Grand Wailea and Longhi’s.

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Her expertise shows. Walking in, one is confronted with the beautiful dessert case, overflowing with her house-made pastries and treats: arguably the highlight of their offerings. Some of the not-to-be missed options include cupcakes (the flavors change daily), gluten-free macaroons, and of course cannoli.

The Caesar salad. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

One imagines Michelle is making the rosemary focaccia, as well. The flatbread makes an appearance with nearly every dish. The garlic bread ($4.50) starts with a base of the rosemary focaccia and is coated with a healthy amount of butter and garlic powder. It’s finished with a touch of Parmesan cheese and is perfectly pleasant. The side of marinara sauce (an unexpected $2 upcharge) was unnecessary and overpowering.

The Caesar salad ($7 full/$4 half) was so-so. Garnished with large rosemary focaccia “croutons,” the thin dressing was unevenly applied. It had a predominantly lemony flavor that was quite sweet and absent of any discernible garlic or anchovy notes. For Maui, the price is fair, but not necessarily worth ordering twice.

The pizzas are made with an exceptional thin, crispy crust, although Fabiani’s also offers a homemade gluten-free crust for an additional $2.99. The Margherita ($9) was listed as featuring “homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.” Rather than the light, fresh tomato and buffalo mozzarella anticipated, the delivered product is a little more like a “typical” pie with cooked sauce and shredded cheese: not a complaint, just a caveat.

The pizza special du jour: “Quattro Sezionis.” Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

On a different occasion, Maui Now sampled the “Quattro Sezionis” pizza special ($10). The pizza arrived with four distinct and separate toppings: artichoke hearts, kalamata olive slices, prosciutto ham, and mushrooms. This particular pizza was excellent, featuring a light coating of the same tomato sauce and cheese and a healthy portion of each of the toppings. The artichoke was the favorite, followed by the prosciutto. The uber-thin crust is unique and provides a great template for the toppings.

On the third and final visit, Maui Now started with the Antipasto platter ($10). It featured three slices of salami and three of what the waitress said was “Coppola.” No one could ever be flagged down to confirm/deny, but a little Googling indicates it was Capicola. The appetizer arrived with a basket of crostini, once again the ubiquitous rosemary focaccia.

The antipasto plate. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Alongside the artichoke hearts and kalamata olives, the “chef’s salad” was a scant portion of arugula topped with two tomato slices. Although there was no discernable dressing flavor, the lettuce was quite wilted as if it had been frozen and defrosted. Overall, it probably would have been better to leave it off altogether.

In contrast, the Lorenzo’s Homestyle Meat Lasagna ($13) delivers a sizable piece of very traditional “like mom used to make” flavor. There was no scrimping on Italian sausage, with multiple meat chunks the size of a shooter marble inside. The sauce seemed to be the same found on the pizza and delivered with the garlic bread and the same is true of the cheese. It was challenging to finish the hearty portion, a good value for the price.

Service is affable but inattentive. It can be hard to get anyone’s attention even if you’re the only person in the dining room. One can make extended – even desperate – eye contact with the waiter/waitress/bartender/manager, and yet fail to be approached. This only gets more challenging when the place is busy.

The homestyle meat lasagna. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Still, with some of – if not the – best pastry selections on Maui, Fabiani’s is worth a visit. Moreover, if you’re a fan of thin crust pizza, the value offered for the price is not to be missed.

We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line.

Dying to know how a certain dish is made so you can recreate it at home? Send in a request, and we will try to pry the secret out of the chef…and even take a run at cooking it up ourselves. Mahalo. -vanessa(@mauinow.com)

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