A couple of months ago, the Feisty Foodie family was dispatched to OliO Pizza e Più to try out the new pizzeria and watch expert pie maker Giulio Adriani ply his trade. Now, with a menu to cater to night owls in the West Village, we returned to see what creations await a late-night clientele.
With our table filled with writers, more cocktails designed by Employees Only’s Dushan Zaric were ordered (you can click on the pictures for larger versions): my drink, the Falerno, combines gin, cynar (an Italian liqueur made primarily from artichokes), and pineapple and lime juices in a martini glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar. Sweet and citric, and of course layered with cinnamon every sip, it provided the requisite refreshment. TT chose the Bee’s Knees (gin, honey, lemon juice) — in his words, “I was a little apprehensive that the honey would make the drink too sweet, but luckily it did not. Delicious!” — CT the Go To (cucumber vodka, St. Germain), Yvo the Waterloo (gin, Campari, watermelon, lemon juice) and BlindBaker went with the Casa di Napoli (Maker’s Mark, white peach puree, peach cordial, fresh lemon juice and fresh ginger slices), though in her words, “Did not like. I took several sips over the next hour or so to give it a fair shake but my opinion never wavered. The ginger totally overwhelmed the bourbon and was so unpleasant I actually sent it back and ordered the Waterloo, which was much more friendly to my palate. Maybe I’m just not meant to enjoy esoteric cocktails?”
We were also there to work through some of the small plates and pizzas, so we set to work on the menu. The impressions of the other members of the Feisty Foodie Family are included, too.
We started with the Porchetta, roasted pork in a simple baked flatbread, paired with frites. Simple, but oh-so-satisfying. The pork was flavorful and tender, but I was given the impression the porchetta in San Francisco and Seattle was prepared differently and more to the liking of The Feisty Foodie. Still, I happily downed my share of this treat.
TT says: This was my favorite new item. The huge chunks of pork were salty heaven. It would be a little hard to eat as a sandwich though since the chunks of meat were slippery with all that wonderful pork fat.
TheBlindBaker says: Like the BeerBoor, I was expecting Olio’s porchetta to be more like Roli Roti’s, but no matter: Olio’s version was pork fatty-goodness. I was so lost in it, I forgot to eat any of the frites until they’d gone a bit cold.
Next to arrive, a plate of arancini, golden-fried balls of rice mixed with vegetables like carrots. They looked delicious from the outside…
.. and, well, they weren’t bad, but mushy with a crisp crust, so the texture juxtaposition tried to be interesting enough. I’ve not seen arancini on other menus in town, so it’s about the opportunity, right?
Yvo says: Yeah I’ve had arancini before, and while I don’t want to sound like I’m looking a freebie in the mouth, these were not quite what I look for in arancini. No, no, no. Admittedly, I had them at Convivio, a Michelin-starred place, but I’ve also made them myself to great success, so… no. Also, they’re meant to be risotto cakes, essentially… not mushy rice formed into balls then deep fried.
TT says: I think the rice was a lot mushy! Unfortunately, most of the non-pizza items were disappointing.
TheBlindBaker says: I agree, TT, this was quite mushy; I actually thought it was a potato croquette until one of you mentioned the rice. I’m not sure if they’re supposed to be prepared that way, but it did have a nice flavor.
Figuring meats and cheeses is always a win for antipasto, we dove into the Antipasto Classico, with an assortment of cured and uncured meats, gorgonzola, taleggio, mozzarella, kalamata olives… just a lovely plate to return to repeatedly.
The Antipasto Fritto swept in next, featuring more arancini, some smushed mozzarella sticks, which still tasted just like they ought to, and angioleti topped with the tomato, garlic and basil, a smart move considering the fried dough just melted in the mouth without really registering.
TT says: Although the food came out pretty quickly, it was already cold. I was pretty full from Crocktoberfest so I just passed on trying most of this. The tomato sauce also tasted canned, which took away from the requisite dipping.
TheBlindBaker says: Did you guys notice that the mozzarella was smoked? Oh my, it was good. Sorry for hogging it all. I didn’t get that canned taste from the tomato sauce, but I did feel it didn’t have enough zest to it.
Polpette Alla Napoletana, to be exact. Pine nuts and capers in the sauce (according to the menu) added very little to what amounted to juicy, meaty balls. Quite dense, but I liked them.
TheBlindBaker says: I prefer my meatballs on the slightly lighter side, but these were really well-seasoned and juicy. I would order these again.
Oh, right, pizza! First up, the Margherita, simple tastiness. This was ordered by the others at the table; CT and TT devoured their share of this pie, so I suspect it was as good as our first go-round.
The Mezzaluna also appears on the late menu, and as it was my favorite last time, another was ordered this time. Same pretty presentation, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella on the exposed half, and ricotta and salami inside, right?
Pretty much, though it wasn’t thick salami as before, it was more like cold-cut slices. Still very tasty, and I wolfed my piece merrily.
Time for more drinks! After a Bee’s Knees of my own, I moved to enjoying Moretti, the perfectly-fine Italian lager, but also tried was the Vesuvio (red grapes, Pisco, chardonnay, lemon juice, and club soda). These cocktails were definitely well-made — judging from the time required to deliver them, they’re quite labor-intensive — and at $13 per, I’d say they are priced on-par with the better cocktail bars in the city, including Employees Only.
And into dessert the evening careened. The Pizza Nutella is, sadly, on the menu now, though it looks like it’s very popular, so why not give the people what they want? Though it wasn’t decorated with strawberries this time, it was every bit the sugary, choco-hazelnut splurge it was last time. Just so tasty and worth getting every time (if there are more than two of you at the table).
Sweet Angioletti, this time with Nutella for dipping and a dusting of cinamon. Again, the point is to taste everything but the dough, apparently, and so we set to work devouring this as well. You can’t go wrong with Nutella in a dessert — or, as BlindBaker puts it, “you can’t go wrong with Nutella, period”.
BlindBaker decided to enjoy a gelato, topped with a sprig of mint and consumed without pity. In her words, “I did enjoy my pistachio gelato very much! I also appreciated the numerous chunks of pistachios scattered throughout, so much so that I’m not sure I offered to share my gelato with anyone. I do think it could have been a little denser and I detected some ice crystals in the gelato, which makes me think too much air was incorporated during the freezing process. Still, it was very very enjoyable. I’m a fiend for pistachio gelato!”
Once again, the pizza impressed me at Olio. After sampling quite a number of small plates offered for late nights, I’d still say to stick with the pizzas. It isn’t that the other dishes are terrible, far from it; but they’re rarely more than ordinary, and I didn’t find anything particularly memorable. Were I to return for a late-night visit soon, I’d happily take on the Antipasto Classico again, with a Mezzaluna and (possibly) dessert. I’d certainly throw in a couple of those tasty cocktails for good measure. That’s a classic combination, and judging from this evening, I see no reason to stray from that very often. A general consensus from the other Family members emerged on this point, too. But I’ll certainly be making another visit to those delicious pizzas at Olio.
Please note that this meal was courtesy of the restaurant’s PR. I received no monetary compensation for this review, nor was I obliged in any way to post about this meal, positively or otherwise. This is my own opinion of Olio and I feel it was unbiased; you are free to take from this what you will.