by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie
As with most new restaurants that open, I like to let the “new” wear off before I try them. New restaurants are still figuring things out and tweaking the menu, so when a place first opens, it’s not a true representation of what it will actually be long term. In the case of Ono Luau, I was curious, because I have never tried Hawaiian or Pacific style cuisine before, so I was drawn in to find out more. I’m sure the owners were wonder who this “Vero Beach Foodie” guy was and why he was so interested in what they were doing. Eight months later, I have to say I’m very impressed and the quality and unique variety of dishes that I’ve not seen in Vero before.
The owners, Dave Bedford and Zak Schmitz are a couple of Vero / Wabasso beach born and raised best friends. In their life travels together, from St Helen’s grade school, and throughout high school had fun times and living in the islands for the next 3 to 6 years adopting and learning the culture and cuisine. Learning from true natives they befriended in Maui, they kept saying to each other that they will open a restaurant someday and it will define them as people. Once you have a chance to meet these guys, they are very casual, family orientated beach bums, who are passionate about what they do. They are excited about the development of our community and hometown and want to pump some young blood and energy into it.
If you have not heard of this place yet or don’t know where it is, they are located in the heart of Downtown Vero in the old Osceola Bistro location. These guys have transformed a Farm to Table restaurant into a true island style experience.
Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what we had to eat!
Stuffed with pork and cabbage and fried till crispy was our first dish of the evening. The wrapper had a satisfying crunch on the outside, yet was filled with tender and very flavorful shredded pork. The ponzu sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the dish.
Unfortunately, this salad is not a menu item, it was created just for my guests at the dining experience, but it does showcase the creativity of the chef and his staff’s skill to put together amazing dishes. This was my first time trying Dragon Fruit, and it won’t be the last. It was sweeter than I expected and the seeds actually added a little crunch to each bite. The lettuce greens and sliced peppers came from Osceola Farm and were really fresh.
Fresh Hawaiian caught Ahi Tuna is sliced thin and served over cabbage. Wasabi (shaped into little shells) and pickled ginger was served alongside. The tuna was very fresh, almost buttery in texture, and some of the best I’ve tasted in Vero.
This dish was brought in for a weekend special and we got the first taste of it before anyone else did, and it was awesome! The Prime Ribeye was perfectly cooked and seasoned to perfection! The mushrooms added a wonderful earthiness to the dish. I hope they consider this one as a permanent menu item because I would definitely order it again.
We were all getting pretty full from all the dishes you’ve seen above, so it was nice to see a light dessert come out for us to try. They start by cracking the coconut, extracting the water, and serving that with a shot of rum on the side. The Haupia pudding was light and very refreshing. Your choice of toppings includes toasted coconut (pictured above), chocolate shavings, or fresh pineapple.
I have to say, I’m impressed by what these guys are doing here. Both of the owners are under 30 years of age, yet they have a wealth of knowledge of the culture and cuisine that represents the Hawaiian and the Pacific region. The food is fresh, creative, and something that is brand new to Vero, so I think “da boyz” at the Luau will do very well here. If you have not tried them yet, I highly recommend you check them out, I know you won’t be disappointed!
Address: 2045 13th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960
Hours of Operation: Wednesday – Saturday, and Monday, 10:00 AM till 10:00 PM, Sunday, 8:00 AM till 8:00 PM, Closed on Tuesdays
This experience was part of our new “Restaurant Review Dining Experience” where you have an opportunity to join me, “The Food Guy” on an actual restaurant review and go behind the lens to see how I work and taste all of the amazing food you have seen in my articles! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, subscribe to our email newsletter and text alerts so you know when tickets go on sale for our upcoming events!
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