2016-06-22 / Restaurant of the Week


A newly renovated “El Olivo” awaits you with 21 years of history serving the Astoria and Western Queens area with superb Spanish and Continental cuisine, fabulous sangria, cocktails and superior service. The dining room has been renovated and adorned with stacked stone walls, soft lighting and a tile floor. The new façade opens to the breezes of 31st Street, while Riccardo mixes up refreshing cocktails and three great new Sangrias. The expanded menu features two dozen varieties of tapas, entrees and paella, everyone’s favorite, along with other classic Spanish dishes - meat, chops, and a bounty of seafood. What hasn’t changed is the quality of the food made with the best ingredients available. The expert chefs make everything from scratch, including all the sauces, sides, and their famous potato chips, served with most entrees. You can taste the passion in these time-honored recipes that have kept El Olivo successful for nearly 21 years.

The charming Talia Aguayo runs the show now while father Riccardo mixes up margaritas, mojitos and signature cocktails called “Wild Thing”, “Pink Shades”, and “Fruit Explosion.” Try the new red sangria Supreme with high quality spirits and fresh fruit pulp that make this sangria so special. The white sangria is cold and crisp, made with Angry Orchard cider, brandy, triple sec and dry white wine with lots of chopped fruit. Craft beers are frosty and cold, available on draft and by the bottle.

Start with some of the tempting tapas to snack on at the bar or at your table. A plate of Manchego cheese and Serrano ham with olives will whet your appetite for more. We tried Spanish sausage called ‘mini chorizo picante’ with a crispy skin that bursts with flavor and a kick of spice. Classic stuffed mushrooms are bite-sized and filled with seasoned breadcrumbs. Shrimp Al Ajillo are sautéed in garlic sauce that must be soaked up by El Olivo’s warm olive bread brought to your table. For something really special, try the Pulpo El Olivo, a warm stew of tender octopus, prepared in a light tomato and bell pepper sauce with lots of garlic, perfect for soaking up with a crust of bread, or Pulpo Gallega, prepared simply with smoked Spanish pimento and potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, the Patatas Bravas are everywhere in Spain and now you can try them right here with a drizzle of spicy aioli sauce. Tapas of the month vary, and may include fresh oysters served raw or fried. Golden crisp ham and chicken croquettes are perfect for sharing along with a glass of wine. Cold pulpo salad is tender octopus, chopped onion, peppers, and sliced avocado with a zesty vinaigrette. Crunchy salads topped with either goat cheese, chick peas and asparagus, or grilled shrimp can be shared for the table as well.

El Olivo’s paella is worth waiting for. Cooked in a heavy metal pot, this traditional dish combines chicken, sausage and seafood with lots of saffron-infused rice and peas for a unique and satisfying meal. Paella Valenciana is made for two people, and combines tender chunks of chicken, Spanish sausage, and the freshest seafood, including mussels, clams, scallops and shrimp heaped onto saffron rice ($31). For $10 more, you can add lobster to your paella and have a feast that will offer plenty for lunch the next day. Lobster is available all week, so you can order one stuffed, broiled or combined with shrimp with a side order of freshly sautéed vegetables and their irresistible hand cut potato chips. The fish is so fresh here, with one of the most popular fish dishes, and my personal favorite, being the Filet of Sole Ala Alcaparra, which is prepared with a lemony sauce laced with Spanish capers. This dish can be prepared with a red snapper filet or fresh Atlantic salmon filet. Red snapper Pescadora is cooked in a light tomato sauce with clams and mussels.

El Olivo has excellent meats also. My brother devoured a juicy, tender shell steak, that was perfectly cooked and served with potatoes and fresh sautéed vegetables. If you have an exceptionally big appetite, the shell steak El Olivo is a portion-and-a-half steak with all the sides. Filet mignon is broiled straight up, or topped with woodsy mushroom sauce. Sauteed veal and chicken dishes are fork-tender and very nicely prepared.

We finished off our fabulous meal with a hunk of Mississippi ice cream cake made with creamy espresso ice cream and an Oreo cookie crust with fudge on top. There’s also lava cake with vanilla ice cream and coconut, mango, or truffle ice cream, amongst other dessert specialties. A glass of Porto or Amaretto makes a nice digestif, along with a rich cup of coffee, perhaps spiked with Kahlua or Bailey’s?? Why not, when the N train is just down the street.

El Olivo is an ideal place to celebrate a special occasion, as they can accommodate groups easily. Call to arrange your next birthday party, graduation, or anniversary party. Business and political luncheons and dinners are their specialty. They’re open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with take out service available. Feel free to stop in for a cocktail or sangria at the bar, along with some tapas anytime. Read the great reviews on Yelp and check out the gorgeous photos and menu on their website. Make any night a fiesta at El Olivo. Olé!

21-15 31st Street
Astoria  718.932.4040

Email: elolivoastoria@gmail.com


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