I'o eatery on Maui joins vaunted North America restaurant list
I'O RESTAURANT on Maui is the only Hawaii eatery to be added to the Distinguished Restaurants of North America list this year. I'o was one of only 26 restaurants in the United States and Canada to be added by the New York-based organization. Fewer than 800 restaurants bear the DiRoNA designation, which comes from the organization established in 1990 to promote the fine-dining industry.
"Having been recognized by the DiRoNA committee as an exceptional restaurant worthy of their award is one of our greatest achievements," said James McDonald, executive chef and partner in the restaurant.
"We're thrilled at being the only restaurant on Maui that holds such distinction, and my staff and I are extremely proud that our efforts are appreciated and recognized."
Restaurants must pass a rigorous, anonymous inspection by trained industry insiders to be considered for inclusion. Restaurants must be in operation under the same ownership and theme, or concept, for at least three years. Inspectors check everything from the experience of making a reservation to the silverware and place settings to the quality of the food and wine.
"DiRoNA honors only the most superior fine-dining establishments," said Chick Marshall, chairman of DiRoNA and co-owner of Mr. Stox restaurant in Anaheim, Calif. "We are proud to welcome these 26 new restaurants into the organization."
La Mer at Halekulani was the first Hawaii restaurant to receive the DiRoNA nod, back in 1992. Roy's and Bali by the Sea were added in 1993; Alan Wong's in Honolulu, Pahu I'a at the Four Seasons Resort at Kaupulehu on the Big Island and Kauai's Cafe Portofino joined the elite in 1999; Michel's in Honolulu followed in 2001; and Furusato Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar was invited to the party in 2005.
The class of 2007 will be welcomed to the fold Oct. 24 at a ceremony that wraps up a three-day fine-dining industry conference in Atlanta.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com