Spoiler alert: Pounders pizza may wreck you from enjoying any others 

The next time you’re in Laie, home of the Polynesian Cultural Center, and you’re feeling ono (hungry), you’ve gotta’ try one of our new Pounders Restaurant 10-inch Hawaiian pizzas in the Hukilau Marketplace: They’re “to die for” delicious.

In fact, you may not be able to stop at one, especially if you’re sharing. First off, guests can choose from 10 different Neopolitan-style pizzas, but be ready, none of these are like your usual neighborhood choices:


Pounders Restaurant Four Cheeses Pizza


Pepperoni Pizza 

Pepperoni, tomato sauce, mozzarella
Italian 3 Meat

Soprassata, Italian sausage, pepperoni
Four Cheeses

Mozzarella, Fontina, Provolone, Gorgonzola, fresh basil


Pounders Restaurant Margherita Pizza




Tomato sauce, fresh basil, mozzarella


Big Wave 

Fresh tomato, mozzarella, macadamia nut pesto


Pounders Restaurant BBQ Pizza



Beef brisket, roast pork, provolone, peppers and onion, BBQ sauce



Zucchini, olive, marinated mushroom, sundried tomato, mozzarella, asiago, macadamia nut pesto


Pounders Restaurant Hawaiian Pizza



Prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, arugula and mango chutney



Sopressata, Kalamata olives



Kuahiwi Farms ground beef, bacon, white cheddar and onion

If your taste in pizza is basic, go for the Pepperoni or Margherita. They both feature a delicious tomato paste and mozzarella, but the latter is set off with fresh sweet basil and glazed with extra-virgin olive oil. For something really special, go for the Hawaiian or BBQ pizza, but stop looking for the pineapple if you order the former. Ours is a lot different than other so-called Hawaiian pizzas. The smoky flavor of the mozzarella complements the wood-fire baking process, making it very ono. The natural saltiness of the prosciutto accented by the tangy arugula and the sweet mango chutney makes this a special taste treat. 

Then there’s the dough base for each of them. It’s made from imported Italian caputo flour and baked in a special oven: “I think our new oven is really going to steal the show,” said Pounders chef Sean Priester of Pounders’ focal-point kiawe-wood-burning Napoli-style brick oven, also imported from Naples, Italy.


Pounders Restaurant Napoli-style Pizza Oven


Marc Neves

Marc Neves, a food and beverage consultant on the design for the PCC’s new Marketplace for the past three years, explained that the new oven came from a family business that’s been making them for the past 150 years. “We even brought over a consultant for three days to train the staff to make a true Neopolitan pizza,” he said. “The first day was learning to build the fire properly. The center of the oven is 720 degrees, but the top of the oven is over 1,000 degrees, so we have to hit just the right spot. If the pizza cooks too quickly, the dough’s not right.”

“When we’ve got it just right, it takes just under three minutes to bake a pizza,” continued Neves, who has Hawaiian roots on Molokai. “We could cook as many as six in the oven, but right now we’re doing less as we learn to properly manage the process: It’s all about spinning. As people can see, all of the fiery heat in the oven is at the 9 o’clock position. We let a pizza sit in there for about 40-50 seconds, then we rotate it one third — that’s called spinning — for another 40-50 seconds, and so forth. They have to watch it.”

Neves said preparing the hand-pressed dough and using just the right amount of yeast is an art: “We need to give the dough the proper amount of rise for when we plan to bake the pizza. For example, we can make dough to use today, or make it differently today to use it tomorrow.

Ready to order yet? Plan on stopping at the Hukilau Marketplace the next time you’re in Laie, and sampling one of these tasty creations..You can’t go wrong, They’re all delicious.




Pounders Restaurant Taro Chips



Scrumptious Crab Cake with Lilikoi Sauce



The Friendly Staff at Pounders Restaurant


Story and pictures by Mike Foley


Mike Foley, who has worked off-and-on

at the Polynesian Cultural Center since

1968,  has been a full-time freelance

writer and digital media specialist since

2002, and had a long career in marketing

communications and PR before that. He

learned to speak fluent Samoan as a

Mormon missionary before moving to Laie

in 1967 — still does, and he has traveled

extensively over the years throughout

Polynesia and other Pacific islands. Foley

is mostly retired now, but continues to

contribute to various PCC and other media.