Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak at one of my favorite, independently-owned shops, Greentail Table in Newton. During the event I shared my tips for effortless entertaining and hunting for the perfect gift. I posted a few photos from the evening on Instagram if you'd like to see.
At the end of the event, the shop owner, Linda, mentioned that a new restaurant had opened two blocks down, if we were looking for a place to grab a bite. You know how I feel about trying new spots, so trotting down the street we went!
If you didn't know where to look, Olivia's Bistro could be easy to miss. The sign above the front door is small and black, blending into the night sky.
When we stepped inside, I couldn't get over how cute the place was. I think I may have audibly shrieked.
We were seated at a table for two in the front window. There wasn't a lot of people watching at 8:00pm on a Tuesday, but I'd imagine in the spring and summer, and on the weekends, there's a lot to observe.
My favorite element of the entire restaurant design was the three neon paintings on the back wall. The bright colors really popped against the exposed brick.
The center painting says, "Welcome to Nonantum," which is the name of this neighborhood in Newton. It's so cool that I wouldn't be surprised if customers ask to buy it!
We shimmied out of our winter coats and got settled in at our table. Our waitress, Laura, came over to introduce herself. Right away I asked, "How long have you been open?" With pride, she answered, "Since January 2nd!" Laura gave us a tour of the menu, pointing out some of her favorite dishes in each section.
A few minutes later, as I was mulling over which glass of wine to order, she offered to let me taste my top choice before committing to the full glass - so nice! I neglected to take a photo of my glass of Barbera (sorry, it had been a long day).
After placing our order, we were given a basket of bread and a side of olive oil for dipping. While we both really enjoyed the doughy texture of the bread, we wished it had been served warm or grilled.
The first dish to arrive was the arugula salad. When we ordered, we mentioned we'd be sharing the salad, so they went ahead and split it into two bowls. I love that.
The arugula was wonderfully fresh and peppery. We both agreed the shallot-lemon dressing added a citrus zing to every bite. The taleggio cheese was quite soft and we found ourselves wishing it had something more firm, like parmesan or ricotta salata. I was also longing for more of a crunch. Perhaps croutons or a crostini on top?
Next we shared the bianca pizza, which as the name suggests, is a white pizza (no tomato sauce). It was topped with mozzarella, fontina, ricotta and parmesan cheeses.
As you pulled a slice away from the pie, it became obvious how cheesy the pizza really was. That rich, creamy topping was paired with an expertly crisped crust. I definitely tasted the herb thyme in every bite. It was advertised as having chili flakes, but I never tasted any heat.
As we bit into our second slices, we couldn't help but wish the pizza had just one more ingredient. Maybe caramelized onions or even thinly sliced potato? While I was happy to have a white pizza, I would have loved some red sauce for dunking my crust.
We tapped out of the pizza early because we knew we wanted to order dessert. After a few minutes of debate, we decided on the zeppole (a bit like a donut hole) and the gelato. Under the gelato it said "hazelnut, vanilla, chocolate" which we interpreted as the flavor options. Nope! The order comes with three scoops. You can mix and match however you like.
The zeppole were quite dense and even the fudge sauce on top wasn't enough to cut through the extreme amount of pastry.
I couldn't stop scooping spoonfuls of the gelato. We decided on two scoops of hazelnut and one of chocolate. Both flavors tasted purely of their main ingredient and were just heavenly.
I really enjoyed our first meal at Olivia's. The dining room is adorable, the service is friendly and attentive and the food is quite yummy. Just be sure to save room for gelato!