Ferraro’s Location Outshines the Food
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.
By Vanessa Wolf
Ferraro’s Bar e Risorante at the Four Seasons is the real estate agent’s dream: location, location, location.
It may take a few days, but once you secure your sunset-timed table reservation, you can look forward to being seated on an open patio just 100 yards from the water. The setting is utterly romantic and the panoramic view gorgeous.
Until the sun goes down, that is: then it’s a different story. Expect your dining experience to suddenly switch to something reminiscent of a scene out of 1986’s 9½ Weeks.
On our dinner visit, we tried the Salumi Sampler ($21), and chose wild boar, Principe Prosciutto Parma, artichokes, and Spanish Manchego cheese. These came accompanied by a red pepper coulis and grilled bread.
The wild boar was salami-ish, only leaner. The prosciutto is high quality and was the highlight of the sampler. The Manchego cheese was dry and flavorful as it should be. The artichokes were marinated and had a strong oregano taste, reminiscent of the kind you might buy in a jar.
The Beef Carpaccio ($19) was disappointing. The meat itself was mush, as though sliced frozen and set in the fridge to wait. It fell apart like a thawed-out Steak-Ummmm. Portion size was also a let down, with perhaps two ounces of meat on the plate.
The Carpaccio was topped with fresh arugula, balsamic vinegar, and Grana Padana cheese, but they weren’t enough to make up for the soggy, lackluster beef.
When we mentioned this to our waiter, he shrugged and said, “Sorry.”
Service was slow-paced, and before the main courses arrived, we found ourselves sitting in total darkness. If you’ve never been blindfolded and fed by Micky Rourke, this is your chance to see what it’s like! If you’re not so inclined, here’s the bottom line: eating in the pitch black is weird.
The red wine braised Lamb Shank ($41) was cooked in an ossobuco style, and the braised meat was fork-tender.
The menu had mentioned roasted root vegetables, so the four inch long piece of nearly raw, leafy celery was unexpected. It was hard to tell for certain in the darkness, but carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms also seemed to be in the dish. A more refined accompaniment would have done the lamb more justice.
The accompanying chickpea fritters were creamy inside and reminiscent of a battered and fried polenta…or maybe that’s because that’s what the waiter said it was when we asked. Either way, they were excellent.
The Hapu’u or Pacific Sea Bass ($44) was also beautifully cooked and the lobster ragu had a light truffle flavor. Although it was clearly stated that the fish was accompanied by lima beans, we were unprepared for their hardness and their abundance. They’re probably okay in small doses, but very dry and not that appealing in vast quantities.
Here’s hoping Ferraro’s switches that ingredient to something – anything – else, as it detracts from the lovely fish.
You might assume Ferraro’s is an Italian restaurant, but much of the food is California-esque more than anything. This is especially true at lunchtime, when the menu features burgers, hummus, quesadillas and just a single pasta dish.
The Grilled Chicken Carbonara Pizza ($23) was small at about 12″ across, but very rich. Topped with a generous layer of wonderful mozzarella, cooked pancetta, lightly sautéed shaved onion, and sundried baby tomatoes it was flavorful and lush. The black truffle shavings were scarce, but with a little redistribution we got one slice on each slice of pizza.
The namesake grilled chicken was dry, flavorless, and pretty much useless. They may as well just leave it off, and lower the price by a couple dollars.
The Seafood Cobb Salad ($28) was fantastic. Although a small portion for the price, this is the Four Seasons after all. Besides, the seafood was perfection. The lobster was lightly dressed in mayonnaise and black pepper, allowing the subtle flavor to shine through.
The fresh lump crab was naked on the plate and very fresh. The three shrimp were recently grilled and still warm. The salad also featured bacon, avocado and onion on a bed of crisp romaine. To say we loved it would be an understatement.
If you’re looking for a romantic setting, it would be hard to beat Ferraro’s views.
The food is somewhat hit or miss, but if you’re about to propose to someone it won’t really matter; you’re probably too nervous to eat anyway.
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)