2011-04-27 / Restaurant of the Week


The secret to El Olivo’s 16 years of success in Astoria lies in Riccardo Aguayo’s commitment to quality, service and consistency. From the fabulous cocktails and sangria to the superb Spanish cuisine, continental dishes and nightly specials, El Olivo is always consistently delicious and offers top notch, friendly service, reasonable prices and a warm, relaxing environment. Mr. Taylor and his lovely wife are regular patrons at El Olivo and he told me, “I’ve been coming here since they first opened and it’s always great.” Another couple of regulars agreed, “The food is great and the prices are reasonable.” El Olivo has now added a special Sunday brunch special with new menu items so there is something delicious cooking seven days a week.

Get the party started with their wide array of appetizers or “tapas” that reflect the flavors and diversity of Spanish cuisine. While we perused the menu, Riccardo mixed up his famous sangria, made with muddled fruit, wine and liqueurs that’s just right, available in red or white varieties. Fabulous cocktails include piña coladas, raspberry coladas, orange or Bailey’s coladas. Margaritas are mixed straight up or with strawberry, pineapple, tamarind or mango and they’re so refreshing. Orlando, the consummate waiter and all-around caballero, brought us our shrimp “ajillo” cooked in a cast iron pan with tons of garlic and a heavenly sauce meant to be soaked up with warm, crusty bread ($9.50) . You can also order this dish as a satisfying main course. “Boquerones” are practically synonymous with Spain and these fresh, marinated anchovies melt in your mouth, and taste neither fishy nor salty. Just 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. Juicy mushroom caps are filled with crabmeat and breadcrumb stuffing that is divine. Another special tapa is pulpo a la gallega, a warm stew of tender octopus, prepared with olive oil and paprika. 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 and an order of the addictive, house made French fries, sliced thin, and sprinkled with sea salt are great for sharing or accompanying a drink at the bar. Sweet red peppers are stuffed with crab meat salad and bits of fruit and serve chilled. Mussels steamed with garlic, clams casino and stuffed mushrooms are another house favorite…grab more bread for the juices.

21-15 31st Street, Astoria, NY 718.932.4040 21-15 31st Street, Astoria, NY 718.932.4040 El Olivo is pleased to offer a Sunday Brunch special, served from 12pm to 3pm. If you’re tired of eggs and waffles for brunch, come here and order delicious chicken in rum sauce with tender mushrooms and diced potatoes in a savory sauce. Fresh seafood in spicy sauce includes shrimp, clams, mussels and squid in a piquant sauce that will wake up your taste buds. We tried their new dish of plump, juicy shrimp in a tangy orange sauce that was just great. Enjoy these entrees and more at Sunday brunch for just $19.95, complete with soup of the day or salad. There are Sunday drink specials as well to accompany your meal.

Perhaps the most well-known dish of Spain is “paella”. Paella Valenciana, combines chicken, sausage and seafood with lots of saffron-infused rice and peas for a savory, stick-to-your-ribs meal ($19.95). I can’t get enough of this paella and the leftovers from this generous portion are great for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. For a couple of dollars more, you can add lobster to this dish. By the way fresh lobster is available every day on the menu, and can be prepared to your liking. I drooled as the table next to me was elegantly served their lobster from classy, tableside carts. Fresh fish and seafood is purchased daily and prepared in a number of delightful ways including stuffed seafood special or flaky breaded flounder filled with crabmeat. Fresh, sautéed vegetables and those fantastic French fries round out this meal.

If you’re seeking something more familiar, order a juicy, broiled shell steak, cooked to order or tender filet mignon with mushroom reduction.

Save some room for cool, creamy flan, frozen créme brulee, whiskey sponge cake, chocolate mousse cake or more. 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 and they’ll even deliver.

To make any night special, visit El Olivo, consistently delicious Spanish cuisine for the past 16 years. Congratulations El Olivo!

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