Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pueo's Osteria, Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

I was excited to try Waikoloa Village's newest restaurant owned by a former Four Season's chef. The restaurant is tucked away in a small shopping center and was quite busy. Reservations should be made in advance. But, we were lucky enough to be seated at the bar where we could order a meal. This particular night, one of my all-time favorites was the special entree of the night, osso bucco. I've eaten a lot of osso bucco, and even made my own from beef shanks instead of veal when veal wasn't available. So, I have some pretty high standards for osso bucco. I think what makes osso bucco isn't really the cut of meat, it's the wonderful sauce that it's cooked in. I got a healthy portion of veal served over risotto. So, the $40 price didn't seem out of the question. But, it had almost none of the sauce I had grown to love, and the meet didn't have that wonderful slow-cooked flavor the sauce imbues. On a scale from the best osso bucco I've ever had, which was at a small Encinitas, CA restaurant, to the osso bucco I probably liked the least, my own, I liked the osso bucco at Pueo's least of all. The risotto was pasty and tasteless, meaning the meal was ok, but disappointing for the expectations I had setup for the place. My friend had the tagliolini, which he said was also just "OK" and not even up to the standards of the hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant, Cafe Concerto, in Hilo.

In the past I've been rating restaurants in Hawaii based on other Hawaiian restaurants because very few of them measure up against the quality of other American or International restaurants. But, when a restaurant is rated number one on Trip Advisor, I feel compelled to let people know what I think compared to what they might have eaten anywhere else. I was left wishing I'd eaten at Roy's, or Ruth's Chris Steak House for the money. But, I suppose for local Waikoloa Village renters or owners, it's a cut above other things available close by and that will keep it busy. I would recommend flying in a chef with mainland flavoring abilities and have him work over the menu. I'll try it again some day.

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