On The Menu with Pūlehu, An Italian Grill
. Italy. Yes, they’re both awesome. But the general manager at Pūlehu, An Italian Grill, says the two places have important things in common.
“Italy is surrounded by water on three sides; we’re surrounded by water on four sides,” GM Jim Hansen explains. “‘Pūlehu’ means to grill over an open flame, and in Italy, steaks are really popular. When you go to the coastal regions of Italy, you’re going to find good synergy with the farmers; we have that with this restaurant as well. We know the names of the people who grow our food. We know our fishermen.”
The award-winning restaurant is located at The Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas, known by most of us as KOR. Hansen says they get much of their produce from upcountry, as well as James Simpliciano’s “Simpli-Fresh” Farm on the West side. The Westin KOR also tends its own garden space, even using tilapia for fertilizer in an aquaponics-type system. It grows ingredients like eggplant, peppers and bananas, along with herbs like Italian basil and mint for food and drinks.
Speaking of drinks, Pūlehu, An Italian Grill is also very proud of its wine program. Hansen is a wine aficionado who carefully selects a range of bottles from small-production wineries around the world. One unique example he showed me, called “Smash City” from California’s Santa Maria Valley, featured a monster truck on its label. Here’s why:
“It’s made by Herman Story and he says comparing this pinot noir to other pinot noirs is like comparing a monster truck to a Prius,” Hansen smiles. “Only 161 cases are made.”
Pūlehu has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the last six years, with bottles that range from $40 to $500. There is even a nightly wine pairing available known as Taste of Stars.
“We start with Dom Pérignon, we go four courses, I pair wines with each course, and I pair to the individual’s palate,” says Hansen. “The most important thing about wine is that you like it.”
The food at Pūlehu, An Italian Grill is not only top-notch, it’s a great value. The kama‘āina rate is an impressive 25% off food all the time, but throughout the month of May, that expands to a whopping 50% off the entire dining menu on Fridays and Saturdays. They also offer 50% off food every Monday after 8 p.m., for locals only. Learn about some of the interactive events and activities in our video above.
“We make our pasta in-house fresh, we also have some wonderful seafood, and our most popular dish by far is we take risotto, we crust it over our fresh catch, and we pan-sear it, we finish it off in the oven and serve it over upcountry vegetables. If I ever took that off the menu, I’d probably get hurt,” Hansen jokes.
He adds that their motto is “from our family to yours,” and they mean it.
“We’re not trying to provide pretentious service; we prepare your favorite dishes and truly want to serve you,” he says. “Our kama‘āina are very important to us.”
Pūlehu, An Italian Grill, overlooks a peaceful koi pond on the ground level of the North tower. It’s open from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday to Monday, but availability may be expanding soon. The Westin KOR offers free parking and complimentary valet, along with online reservations via Open Table. Learn more at Pūlehu, An Italian Grill’s website or by calling 808.667.3254.