High school sweethearts and graduates of St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School in Wailuku, John and Christine opened Pita Paradise at the Kīhei location about 11 years ago.
“My father had The Greek Bistro across from Kama‘ole Beach II in Kīhei for about 23 years,” John said. “He closed it about two years ago. I worked there and Christine worked at The Four Seasons before we got married. At The Greek Bistro, we tested serving pita sandwiches and they were so popular that Christine and I decided to open our own place and call it Pita Paradise.”
The Kīhei location is still a popular spot with locals and visitors.
Located in Wailea Gateway Center, Pita Paradise Wailea Bistro offers outstanding Mediterranean cuisine.
“Now it’s a counter-style café serving only pita sandwiches, salads and kabobs,” John said. “We decided to limit our menu there when the area became more a bar and music scene, and not really a great place if you’re looking for a quiet dinner.”
He said they wanted another location where they could offer fine dining in a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. When Wailea Gateway Center opened, they decided the location would be the perfect venue for John to pursue his passion for serving fresh fish.
“I fish full-time for the restaurant,” John said. “We don’t buy fish anywhere else. We only offer fish I catch myself, and it’s always fresh.”
The evening I dined at Pita Paradise, I enjoyed expertly prepared pan-seared mahi mahi on zucchini soufflé cake with roasted red potatoes topped with fresh herb salad and fresh mango coulis. It was delicious.
Scott Weeker and Sandy Frewer are local residents who dine at the Wailea location several times a week. “It’s so relaxing and informal,” Scott said. “You can be as dressy as you want or you can come right from the tennis courts.”
“All the wait staff is so nice,” said Sandy. “They remember us and always treat us so well. We’ve never had a bad meal there.” The restaurant is our ‘Cheers.’”
As director of operations at Wailea Beach Villas, Sandy said she often recommends Pita Paradise to her guests. “Because of the name, some people ask if it’s a sandwich shop and I tell them, ‘No! You have to trust me. Try it.’ And they always come back raving about the food and the atmosphere.”
Scott said he often has business lunches there, too. “It’s convenient, right off the highway and it’s quiet enough that business can be conducted very comfortably.”
“Our friends have little children, and when we all have dinner together, there’s a real family feel about the place, too,” Sandy added. “Families and couples, live jazz on weekends—there’s something for everyone. And really I can’t say enough about their fish. It’s phenomenal! It’s our favorite neighborhood restaurant.”
The restaurant features a full bar with food service and comfortably spaced table seating inside and on the patio. And be sure to check out the whimsical mural by artist Anniko Banco along the south inside wall.
“It’s the story of our restaurant,” Christine said. “It shows Johnny on his boat handing a fresh fish to the chef on the dock, who drives it to the restaurant and carries it inside.”
Open seven days a week, Pita Paradise Wailea serves lunch and dinner. Happy Hour is from 3 to 6 p.m. with choices of delicious appetizers that include favorites spinach tiropitas and pita pizzas. Dinner is from 5 to 10 p.m. featuring freshly caught fish, lamb salad, chicken fettuccini, calamari steak and pasta dishes, all cooked to order in mouth-watering Greek and Italian styles.
“We keep it affordable for everyone,” Christine said. “Our nightly fish special is $30, but most of our entrees are between $17 and $24 and our wines are about 30 percent less than at hotels.”
“Our three chefs have three different styles and they blow me right out of the water,” John said. “People come here because we offer fresh Mediterranean cuisine at reasonable prices. We’re not pretentious and everything we serve we make from scratch.”
And that’s what a bistro is by definition; an unpretentious small restaurant offering reasonably priced food. And Christine added, “busy,” too!
Pita Paradise Wailea Bistro is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. with music on the weekends. Sal Godinez Latin Jazz performs on Saturdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and Sundays from 5:30 to 8 p.m., Benoit Jazz Works takes the stage. And don’t forget the second Friday of every month from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., enjoy belly dancing by Twisted Hips!