2015-01-28 / Restaurant of the Week

EL OLIVO

Make any night a special night at El Olivo, where the fiesta is on seven days and nights a week. With 20 years of loyal service to the Astoria community, El Olivo is an ideal place to celebrate a romantic Valentine’s Day or a family dinner, business dinner, or friendly meal. The secret to El Olivo’s success is in the consistently delicious Spanish and continental cuisine, served so elegantly at your tableside by the expert staff. El Olivo is a place I always look forward to going again and again and you will too. Owner Riccardo Aguayo and his lovely daughter Talia welcome everyone like family as you enter near the very festive bar. The barman mixes up cocktails galore and blends the best sangria in Western Queens in my opinion, in both red and white versions.

Besides the consistently excellent menu items, the chef at El Olivo creates nightly specials that are hard to resist. We sampled the fried oysters which were outrageously delicious with their crunchy crust and sweet, tender, briny oyster inside. These will be perfect on Valentine’s Day! Fresh mussels were also on the menu, steamed in a garlicky sauce meant to be soaked up by the warm, crusty bread. While I do love specials, I always turn to El Olivo’s famous pulpo alla Gallega, from the northwest region of Spain, which is tender octopus stewed until tender with smoky pimento ($13.95). You can have this tender octopus El Olivo-style with tomato and spices too. Shrimp al ajillo are sautéed with lots of garlic and a heavenly sauce ($10.95) for a great appetizer or main course portion with rice. Juicy mushroom caps are filled with crabmeat and breadcrumb stuffing or try the crispy rings of fried calamari. All the aperitivos here are generously sized for sharing and can be ordered at the bar as well to accompany your drinks. The cured Serrano ham and manchego cheese with olives or an order of the golden, house made French fries, sliced thin, and sprinkled with sea salt are great to nibble on over drinks with friends. There are so many wonderful main course options to choose among at El Olivo, including fresh fish and seafood, meat, chicken and rice dishes. The most famous dish of Spain is paella and El Olivo’s Paella Valenciana combines chicken, sausage and seafood with lots of saffron-infused rice and peas for a savory, comforting meal that’s meant to be shared ($22.95). Paella Marinera is a seafood festival that combines juicy, sweet lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels and scallops all nestled into that delectable rice. The nightly fish special was black sea bass with saffron sauce. This supremely fresh, flaky sea bass was prepared with a very delicate saffron-scented sauce, served with potatoes and fresh vegetables. Red snapper with caper sauce or simply broiled are good choices, as is the whole lobster, served any way. Shrimp or mussels are prepared Creole style with tomatoes, peppers, and onions, while the Mariscado Diablo is a mélange of seafood and lobster in a picante sauce.

The meat special of the evening was a melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon with mushroom sauce that was simply outstanding. My dining companion could not get over the high quality and tenderness of this filet and the sauce was sublime. El Olivo prepares pasta dishes that rival those in any good Italian restaurant, as well as sautéed chicken dishes such as chicken Catalan, Castellana, and Francese with lemon and butter sauce. All dishes are prepared to order, so a little patience will be rewarded with your excellent meal served tableside.

Enjoy a steaming hot Mexican-style coffee with some Kahlua or Tia Maria in it and order one of the decadent desserts. There’s cool, creamy flan, frozen crème brulee, spumoni truffle, espresso truffle, frozen chocolate mousse, Boston chocolate cheesecake and pear and apple pie with ice cream. Come for the weekday complete lunch specials served from noon until 3:00 for just $16.50 including salad, main course, beverage and dessert. El Olivo is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and they deliver to your home or office. Hurry while there is still time to make your reservations for a romantic Valentine’s Day celebration, or just make any night special with a meal at El Olivo. From their heart to yours, it’s siempre rico or always delicious!

21-15 31st Street
Astoria, NY  718.932.4040

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