Chef James Babian known on Hawaii Island most recently for being the executive chef to Four Seasons Hualalai Resort ventured out to open his own Italian restaurant in the heart of Waikoloa! Not knowing much about this man I decided that it would be best for me to try it out! As I arrived, the restaurant was quite different from how I remember it when it was Anthony’s, gone were the days of dark and dingy. It was brightened up by a hostess and Deli style showcase at the front entrance. I learned you were able to purchase grab and go, order takeout or dine in the restaurant or at the bar which I selected on. Pueo’s Osteria has a “smart casual” attire policy which I think is great. They ask that men not wear tank tops or sleeveless shirts! Just adds a bit more class! Men, if you’re trying to impress the ladies you should try more with your brain and your wine knowledge than your biceps at dinner anyways.
I wasn’t very hungry so I went straight for the good stuff! The Menu is very Italian, a few things I couldn’t pronounce, but the staff was helpful enough to explain! For being a new restaurant, I felt that the staff knew exactly what everything was! I asked the Bartender Kalia(I think that was her name) to make me her favorite specialty cocktail listed on the menu as there were quite a few to pick from, all which sounded amazing! She selected the Tuscan Sunset (Martini) made with Skyy blood orange vodka, Stirring’s Peach liqueur, fresh lime sour, and pomegranate juice. Topped with an orange twist and a maraschino cherry imported from Italy which was better than I could have imagined! It was a nice blend of sweet and tropical with a nice bitter finish. The vodka wasn’t too overpowering! I’m not a big fan on Martini’s due to how strong most are made, but I really liked all the notes that I could taste with this cocktail! It lasted through my entire meal due to the small sips! 7/10
The selection of food was diverse, from veal to chicken and many different types of Appetizers, Salads and Pizza’s! I ordered the Eggplant Parmesan, The portion size was perfect for someone who was hungry! Layers upon layers of breaded eggplant surrounded by a fresh light tasting marinara sauce which complimented the entree very well! I must admit that when cutting through, it was a little difficult but that was as negative as I can get. It tasted just like a chicken Parmesan would taste! And I love that! Anything that’s healthier and can taste like chicken is always a winning dish! The breading was lightly seasoned and didn’t taste heavy or garlicy! After eating half I was already full so I stopped and saved myself for dessert. 6.5/10
Although not printed on the menu they have a nice variety of desserts that change. I stopped Courtney, one of the servers and asked her about the dessert, she first mentioned a lemon-cello torte, anything else she mentioned after that I paid no attention to! Something about a chocolate something, and a Crostata…I had no clue what a crostata was! So I googled it! Key words were, open faced, Italian baked and tart. It sounded good enough to try! So I did! Served on a chilled plate was a scoop of Tropical Dreams Tahitian Vanilla ice cream and a warm flaky dessert which I now know is a Crostata filled with blueberry and mango. It’s like eating a bite of heaven! Seriously! I love apple pie ala mode’s! It’s my favorite thing ever invented! Until now! It’s texture was very similar but so different at the same time! The mango tasted fresh and not frozen! Just enough filling to make me happy! The Pastry literally melted in your mouth! I would go back just to eat this! 10/10
Lastly, I will post my receipt so you all know I paid for and tired it! This was unsolicited and very honest! The price wasn’t very high and I’d gladly go back here again and invite my friends with me! Good job Chef James and staff! I think Waikoloa and resort guests will love your new place! Thanks to the staff for making it a great dining experience for me.