Maui Food and Dining

Pita Paradise Delivers Solid Mediterranean Fare

December 28, 2012, 2:39 PM HST
* Updated December 28, 2:41 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.

By Vanessa Wolf

Pita Paradise’s Appetizer Plate. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

Pita Paradise in the Wailea Gateway Place is one of the few sources of a gyro on this island. They also offer a smattering of Mediterranean and Lebanese favorites at relatively reasonable prices.

The Appetizer Platter ($15) provides a little bit of everything.

First off, the tzatziki (which comes with most, if not all dishes) is spot-on: rich yogurt and sour cream are mixed with grated cucumber, garlic and a little bit of dill. The sauce adds a cool and refreshing touch to everything.

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The hummus is good, albeit a little mealy. There is a strong cumin flavor, but it makes a lovely accompaniment to the fresh, warm pita bread.

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Bruschetta, borrowing from the Tuscan side of the Mediterranean, features fresh tomatoes and basil. It’s flavorful and rather garlicky – vampires and those on first dates beware – and combines surprisingly well with the other items on the plate.

The falafel is clearly homemade and well-executed, at that. The deep-fried chickpea patty is light with a hint of spice. Occasionally it has arrived extremely overcooked – make that black – on one side, but didn’t hurt the taste.

The olive tapenade was the best item on the plate: green and kalamata olives are mixed with basil, red bell pepper and vinegar. The heaping helping of raw onion slices on the side have a harsh bite and are completely unnecessary: just pretend they’re not there.

Spinach Tiropitas. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

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The Spinach Tiropitas ($8) are another solid choice, but first, a little culinary nitpicking.

Technically – in Greece anyway – Tiropitas are cheese and egg-filled pastries. When you add spinach, the dish is known as Spanikopita. But why harp about such minutiae: surely a rose by any other name smells as sweet.

Following suit, all you need to know is that Pita Paradise’s version features crispy, buttery phyllo dough enveloping a savory mix of spinach and feta cheese. The plating is a bit awkward with two small pastries, a side of tzatziki, a single olive, some feta and those pesky shaved raw onions again…coated in what seemed to be Mrs. Dash.

All in all, the plate – and arguably the price – is a little too big for the portion provided, but it’s a tasty few bites nonetheless.

The Traditional Greek (the lack of lettuce being the primary difference) Salad ($10) is a good choice. Featuring a characteristically Greek mix of feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and Kalamata olives in an oil and vinegar dressing, it’s cool and refreshing, especially if you’ve opted to sit outside on a hot Wailea day.

The Australian Range Lamb “American Greek” salad. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Australian Range Lamb “American Greek” salad ($17) is acceptable. Mixed greens, feta, tomatoes, cucumber and a serious helping of tzatziki are topped with a decent portion of small bits of well-done lamb. One gets the feeling those are leftover scraps not included in the gyros, which is a bit of a disappointment.

Speaking of which, the Lamb Gyro ($14) seems to be where the good stuff goes. Lamb, lettuce (A LOT of lettuce), tomatoes, onions and feta are tucked inside a fresh pita. Although it’s not entirely traditional (one doesn’t get the sense the meat was cut off the customary “spool of meat” spit), it’s an agreeable substitute.

All in all, if you’re looking for a satisfying and well-priced Greek-ish food in an inviting atmosphere, Pita Paradise is a dependable choice.

They also have a second location in the Triangle in Kihei with a slightly different menu, slightly less ambience, and slightly lower prices. Food, however, is just as solid.

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 – vanessa(@mauinow.com)

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