If you’ve ever been to Lahaina, you’ve probably had dinner at Sal e Pepe Pizzeria e Cucina, one of the best-known Italian restaurants on Maui. “Sal e Pepe” means “salt and pepper” in Italian, a cute play on the fact that it’s owned by a couple, Qiana and Michele di Bari.
Michele, the husband, makes the pastas in-house, and over time, customers have asked them to make their pastas for sale. It seems like great timing that their pastas launched at Whole Foods during the pandemic, a time when many people are looking for easy and delicious things to cook at home.
Bu’ono Pasta Fresca is made with love in Lahaina, and its name is another play on words, with “buono” in Italian and “ono” in Hawaiian both meaning “delicious.” Made with only Italian semolina rimacinata flour and water, the spaghetti, rigatoni and strozzapreti offered are completely vegan. The pesto is made with only local basil and the marinara sauce, made with San Marzano tomatoes, is a recipe that Michele’s family has been using for generations. Each product in the line is priced at $8-$10.
I got to try all three pastas — rigatoni, strozzapreti, and spaghetti — and the marinara and pesto sauces. Since these are fresh, they need to be refrigerated until used. The pastas also need only two minutes to cook in boiling, salted water. I need to caution you that two minutes is quick, and you need to pull them out of the water quickly to avoid overcooking.
I love pesto, and Bu’ono’s is very fresh and bright. It was great simply drizzled on Kamuela tomatoes, and then when I made the pasta, I chopped up the tomatoes to add color and flavor.
The marinara is fine plain if you’re serving it to kids — again, very fresh and bright, and it tastes very natural. I had to dress it up with some sliced Two Lady Farmers pork sausage from Kaimuki Superette, since I already had it on hand.
In both cases, you probably want to add cheese as well. You don’t need to, but cheese does add to it!
The strozzapreti is (in my opinion) best with the pesto. I was fooling around and after tossing it with pesto, I topped it with some of the marinara, too. Tomatoes and pesto, right? That tasted pretty good! But alas, that wasn’t very photogenic at all, so I can’t show you my creation. Anyway, that’s one way to use up and stretch any extra sauce, just toss them together and see what you get.
Don’t forget, these are fresh pastas, so don’t buy them until you’re ready to cook them. They do keep in the fridge up to a week, but I’d plan for no more than three days out, just to be safe.
You can find Bu’ono Pasta Fresca at Sal e Pepe on Maui, and at Whole Foods stores around Hawaii. Mangia!
Disclosure: All products were provided by Sal e Pepe.