We love Hawaii for everything it offers. Tropical breezes, palm trees, cobalt blue water and of course the Polynesian food and drinks. That said, there is only so much pupu that one can eat! Enter Pueo’s Osteria…probably the best non-Hawaiian cuisine on the Big Island! Located just a short uphill drive from the Waikoloa and Kohala you find this restaurant in a small, neighborhood shopping center. The venue is comfy Tuscan (we think the indoor dining is much more cozy than the rather plain patio). The first thing we noticed is the number of locals out for some fine dining…this is definitely not a loco-moco place! Everyone was tapping their feet to the Frank Sinatra tunes filling the rooms! Pueo’s has an expansive bar where you can enjoy a glass of wine from a fantastic wine list. They also serve cocktails, though I don’t think the bartender was well versed in mixology (our Manhattans were sans-Vermouth….not a big issue for us as the Bourbon was top shelf…and you’re not here for the booze anyway, you’re here for the phenomenal meal!). The chef is Chicago Italian at his finest…looks it, sounds like it, and cooks like it! If you’ve ever had the pleasure of doing Italian in the Windy City, then you’ll know what I mean. The food is rich with flavor and that “mama’s kitchen” appeal that is so hard to put words to…..but then chef adds that extra special ingredient or presentation that puts Peuo’s dishes over the top! We enjoyed a delicious bruschetta with mushrooms, roasted pecans and honey (different yes, but sooo good), then moved on to a small pizza appetizer and finally a Veal Oso Bucco and classic penne. All were fantastic though I had to add a bit of salt to the veal (just my own personal taste, but it really brought out the deep flavors). Our service was provided by Hailea and Courtney (efficient and very Aloha friendly). At the end of the meal, as we sat back to let our palates and bellies rest, we both had the same observation…how nice to get a break from hula, rum punch and another version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”.
Final analysis: put this at the top of your Big Island to-do list. Pueo’s is currently rated #1 in the Waikoloa area for a very good reasons. The only thing I’d suggest is that you get your fill of “Hawaiian” first…and then come back “home” to this little slice of Italy!
BTW...this is one of the few places on the island that offers late night dining! I'm not sure if they do it every night so call first....but they're definitely open after midnight on Friday and Saturday!
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