With so many world-changing events in recent years, it may be hard to remember the massive volcano eruption that happened in the heart of the Big Island back in 2018. That eruption was caused by the Kileau Volcano which sits just four miles away from one of the island’s most popular pizza joints — Ohelo Café. At the end of 2021, this volcano started spewing lava again and while it hasn’t created quite the chaos that 2018 eruption has, it is drawing people far and wide. If you’re going to see this insane natural phenomenon this year, make sure to likewise pause and include Ohelo Cafe on your route.
Ohelo Cafe takes its name from the ohelo berry, a fruit that was favored by the fire goddess Pele. It is thus fitting that this pizzeria (and more) sits just a short walk away from one of the most active volcanoes in the world. You’ll find Ohelo Cafe at the intersection of Volcano Road and Haunnani Road. The building itself is hard to miss with its massive red roof full of solar panels and its neighboring Volcano Store with twin gas pumps.
This dining establishment can best be described as a casual sit-down lunch and dinner place, although the prices might be a bit higher than expected for casual fare due to its high tourist location. But don’t confuse that with the same as saying this is a tourist-only place! Ohelo Cafe is a popular place with a warm inviting atmosphere whose spacious interior is commonly filled with people. Reservations are thus strongly encouraged, especially when planning a visit during peak lunch and dinner hours.
Ohelo Cafe has an interesting layout in which the kitchen is not obscured from the dining area. In fact, there is even a special table called the Chefs Table in which four guests can sit right up close to the prepping area. Here, it’s possible to converse with the professional chefs as they prepare the tables’ food as well as the other menu items. Don’t be shy! Guests are encouraged to ask questions about Ohelo Cafe and its methods.
There are a lot of fantastic dishes prepared and served at Ohelo, but some of the most popular include:
Any of their Wood-fired Pizzas
Ohelo Cafe is most well-known for its wood-fired pizza oven. You can choose from a pre-made list of local favorites like the restaurant’s Pesto Pizza or create your own mix from their topping lists.
Stuffed Rack of Lamb
This is one incredible dinner entree that includes stuffing of arugula, dates, feta, garlic, and shallots. The dish comes served with a side of fennel roasted potatoes.
An incredible dish. This menu item features freshly caught kau fish and Kauai shrimp tossed in a lobster creme sauce with tomato and freshly squeezed lemon. This combination gets served over a plate of steaming linguine.
To pair with any of these dishes, you can choose nonalcoholic beverages that include traditional and Italian sodas, liquor drinks, local beers, and a few choice red and white wines.
-Note that this is a very busy restaurant due to the double whammy of it being located so close to a top Hawaii natural destination and it offering fantastic wood-fired pizzas. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
-Make sure to pop into the Volcano Store that shares a building with this restaurant. The Volcano Store is a lovely mom-and-pop general market store that boasts a ton of sundries and some amazing good prices on local beers.