El Olivo...Spanish Cuisine
groups of families dining together. The fine Spanish cuisine of El Olivo lends itself to group celebrations, from the large pitchers of freshly mixed sangria to the plates of tapas, meant to be shared, and generous helpings of paella, arroz con pollo and continental dishes, everyone gets to try everything brought to the table. El Olivo is also the ideal spot for an intimate dinner for two. Owner Riccardo Aguayo and head waiter Orlando make everyone feel at home as they tend to your every need.
In addition to the perfectly mixed white or red sangria with fresh fruit, there are specialty “cocteles” such as mojitos, fruity margaritas and martinis to begin your meal, along with fine wines and beer. For your appetizers, a host of traditional “tapas” hints at the abundance that Spanish cuisine has to offer. One of my favorite starters is shrimp “ajillo”. Plump, tender shrimp are sizzling in a robust garlic sauce that tastes best when soaked up with bread ($9.25) and my dining companions and I made short work of it. You can also order this dish as a satisfying main course. Another special tapa is pulpo a la gallega, a warm stew of tender octopus, prepared with olive oil and paprika, or pulpo Olivo’s, made with tomato, red peppers and delicate spices. A plate of boquerones will transport you to the Iberian Peninsula. These fresh, marinated anchovies melt in your mouth, and taste neither fishy nor salty. Simply place one or two of these tiny fish on a piece of warm crusty bread with some of the hand chopped salsa that comes with this dish and you’ll be in for a unique, delicious treat.
Tender white asparagus vinaigrette is a specialty this time of year, served with the zesty salsa. A small plate of cured Serrano ham and manchego cheese with olives is a typical tasty tapa. The expert chef at El Olivo stuffs sweet peppers with crabmeat salad and bits of fruit and serves them chilled. Mussels steamed with garlic, clams casino and stuffed mushrooms are also quite popular.
The most famous dish of Spain, Paella Valenciana, combines chicken, sausage and seafood with lots of saffron-infused rice and peas for a savory, family-style meal ($19.95). Every forkful of this outstanding paella brings new flavors….a juicy clam, mussel, plump scallop, chunk of chicken or slice of smoky chorizo sausage combine with the toothsome rice
for a gastronomic treat. For a couple of dollars more, you can add lobster to this dish. Fresh lobster is available every day on the menu, and can be prepared any way you’d like.
El Olivo features fresh fish and seafood that is purchased daily and prepared in a number of delightful ways. Orlando suggested the evening special, a stuffed seafood platter that included stuffed clams, plump juicy shrimp stuffed with crabmeat and bread crumbs and a tender fillet of sole wrapped around that same savory filling. The fish was so fresh it melted in your mouth and the sweet crabmeat was just right. A side order of their house made potato chips is a must, and the broccoli was lightly sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
A traditional Spanish dish called arroz con pollo, cooks tender boneless chicken with rice and smoky chorizo sausage in a cast iron cazuela which offers plenty to share ($14.95). Another popular dish is called chicken Castellana, a French-cut breast prepared in a light, lemony sauce with artichoke hearts ($14.95). Chicken estremena is prepared with smoky chorizo sauce, onions and peppers. You can keep it simple with a juicy, broiled shell steak, cooked to order or tender filet mignon with mushroom reduction. A hefty veal chop or veal Sevillana are other delicious options.
Orlando and the staff swiftly bring dishes and clear others unobtrusively and make you feel relaxed and unrushed. Though you’ll be stuffed, you ought to try one of their fresh fruit sorbets or ice cream desserts. The frozen créme brulee was cold and creamy with its unique caramelized top. Frozen ricotta cheesecake is another unique dessert. Whisky spongecake and chocolate lava cake will have to wait until my next trip to El Olivo. Don’t forget a steaming cup of café con leche or international coffees flavored with Kahlua, Tia Maria and Irish cream. El Olivo is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with lunch specials from $8.95. They deliver too. Visit El Olivo soon where every night is a fiesta. Weekend reservations are suggested and credit cards are accepted. Viva El Olivo!