For a special occasion or anytime comfort, El Olivo in Astoria serves wonderfully delicious Spanish cuisine. The dining room’s soft lights, intimate seating, and white starched, tablecloths create an ambience of casual elegance while service carts add a touch of old-world charm. Owner Riccardo Aguayo has been here for over 16 years and knows just how to please his patrons. He begins with an outstanding menu that offers beautifully-prepared ethnic favorites, and a staff of friendly, competent professionals to cater to each party’s needs. Then he sets the stage for a relaxed dining experience with low background music, carefully placed, colorful dishes, and attentive service. Add excellent acoustics that lend themselves to both quiet conversation and large-group conviviality, and you have a winner. Are you getting hungry? Why not order something from the bar and take a look at the menu. El Olivo serves a myriad of cocktails, wines and liqueurs; and sangria, which comes in a red and white variety, is among its most popular drinks. We ordered a pitcher that came filled with wine and generous chunks of fruit, and that had just the right amount of sweetness. Margaritas come in a variety of flavors such as strawberry, pineapple and mango, or you can have a piña colada, or a raspberry, orange or even Bailey’s colada.
For a first course, El Olivo offers Spanish Sausage (chorizos), Stuffed Mushrooms (mushrooms stuffed with seasoned crabmeat and bread crumbs), mixed salad and an array of tempting seafood appetizers; but make sure you check out the daily specials too, because you will find more to choose from there. One of El Olivo’s signature dishes that I recommend highly is Pulpo Olivo’s
($10.95). Pulpo is Spanish for octopus, a food I had always thought of as somewhat tough and rubbery, but this dish consists of tender pieces of meat alongside a scoop of freshly-prepared salsa. It is colorful, artfully presented, and divinely flavorful. We also tried the
Shrimp Ajillo (shrimp with garlic sauce), which was creamy and delicately seasoned; and white asparagus vinaigrette, a Spanish delicacy and one of the daily specials. White asparagus is really green asparagus grown without light. It is milder in flavor than green asparagus, and El Olivo’s vinaigrette provides the perfect complement. Clams on the Half Shell ($9.75) are a classic that I could barely pass up, and the Fried
Calamari (also $9.75)) sounded delicious, but I will have to save those for another time.
If you enjoy a bowl of soup with your meal, El Olivo offers several choices, including black bean, chicken, garlic and Galician. Are you ready for your main course? El Olivo’s paella is said by many to be the best in town. You have three kinds to choose from, Paella
Valenciana (with rice, chicken, sausage and seafood),
Paella Valenciana with lobster, and Paella Marinara
(with seafood and lobster), all for under $25.00 (and only $11.50 at lunch). I ordered the Paella Marinara, which came with yellow rice, a half lobster on the shell, scrumptious pieces of seafood, red pepper, and green peas. At El Olivo, dishes are presented in an esthetically pleasing way, and I noted throughout our meal that our server also took the time necessary to arrange each plate on our table in a manner that was both accommodating and pleasing to the eye. Needless to say, the paella was beautifully colorful, and it was also divinely flavorful.
El Olivo is a friendly place where strangers speak with one another freely, and when an impressive Mariscada was placed on the table next to ours, we asked our neighbor about it. It was a Mariscada Diablo, he told us, which had seafood and lobster with a hot red sauce. He ordered it often. My dining companion had a Fillet of Sole with caper Sauce ($19.50) that was prepared to order like every other dish at El Olivo and that she declared juicy, cooked to perfection. Portions are large and we both had enough food left over for the next day’s lunch.
But what if you’re in the mood for meat or poultry? El Olivo has temptations for you, too. Try the Filet Mignon with mushroom sauce ($28.75), the Tenderloin Marsala ($25.50), Veal Rellena ($21.50), Chicken and Rice with Spanish sausage ($15.95), or something from the daily specials’ list that is guaranteed to satisfy. Finally, to end your meal on a sweet note, choose from El Olivo’s many dessert or liqueur selections. Order Flan, Tortoni, Tartufo, Chocolate Mousse, Tiramisu, or sip an after-dinner drink like Amaretto, Cointreau, or Kahlua. International coffees are also available.
Located at 21-15 31st Street in Astoria, El Olivo is open seven days a week from 12:00 PM to 10:30 PM, and except on holidays, serves both lunch and dinner. Lunch hours are from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM, with a special complete lunch menu offered between the hours of 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM.
A special menu is planned for Easter Sunday that will include rack of lamb, and dinner will be served all day from 12:00 PM on. Call 718-932-4040 to make your reservations.
21-15 31st Street, Astoria, NY