Editors' Picks

La Villa Mahana

Leeward Islands, French Polynesia

(689) 67-50-63

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In a region with a dearth of fine dining, La Villa Mahana stands out like an emerald in a sea of rocks. The dream restaurant of chef Damien Rinaldi Dovio, who once helmed L’Orangerie in Los Angeles but ran away to Bora Bora and married a Tahitian woman, the Mahana is his baby in every way. Only seven two-person tables are tucked into three levels on the patio of a Provençal-style home belonging to a famous regional artist. There is one seating a night. This way Dovio can create the menu—which may be anything from a goat cheese tart to lobster and shrimp risotto to mahi mahi with curry and banana—and do all the cooking and much of the serving himself. He favors vanilla and uses its essence in many dishes. Make the most of his many talents by ordering one of two tasting menus offered each night. It was by far the best meal I had in all French Polynesia, and when I go back, I’ll reserve for several nights.

Tip: You may have to reserve as much as two months ahead, so book as soon as possible. If you can’t, have the concierge put your name on a waiting list, as people often cancel at the last minute and you may be able to get in.

Written by Monique Brendel Thofte

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