Upcountry residents and night owls flock to this rare bird of a great restaurant in Waikoloa Village, named for the native owl, but its appeal goes far beyond its location (just 8 minutes from the Waikoloa Beach Resort) and late hours. Executive chef-owner James Babian, who lined up more than 150 local food purveyors for Four Seasons Hualalai during his tenure there, still works his connections for the freshest seafood, meat, and produce, while importing only the finest of everything else (including olive oil and well-priced wines) to create a delicious Italian menu. Although some of the menu falls in the expensive category, bargains include “early owl” specials ($8, available 5­–6pm) and bar menu items such as a Tuscan burger made with local beef, provolone, and bruschetta tomatoes, served with house-made fries for just $12, or build-your-own wood-fired pizzas starting at $13. Babian has a tender touch with fresh pasta, such as potato gnocchi with house fennel sausage and Hamakua mushrooms, but also adds zest to hearty dishes such as a Barolo-braised short rib and Niihau lamb osso buco. Gluten-free bread and pasta are also available.

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