Open in Arlington for eleven years now, Ristorante Olivio is a hidden gem offering authentic Italian cuisine. Chef Angelo came to America from Italy, bringing with him home-style cooking and traditional recipes from his native country.
Sitting at a dark wooden table in a simple dining room with white walls and Italian décor, I felt like I was back in Europe again. One of the walla displays vases filled with wine corks, another displays traditional serving dishes and pieces from Italy.
The open kitchen can be seen from the main dining room and invites guests to get a sneak peak at their dishes being prepared.
Not only does Olivio’s offer a gluten free menu but they also have gluten free bread. This was one of the best, if not the best, breads I have tried. Our waitress told me the brand is called Heartland, and it was purchased at Whole Foods. I am still trying to figure this out, because I cannot find that company online. If you see it at Whole Foods, but it— it’s that good.
We started with two appetizers: prosciutto and melon with olives and fresh cracked pepper, and the asparagus salad with mozzarella and sundried tomato vinaigrette. The menu description also included string beans, which were missing from our salad. I really liked the puréed sundried tomato dressing; it was thick and flavorful.
For my entrée I ordered the shrimp and calamari fra diavolo with capellini pasta. The sauce was slightly spicy, but not too spicy, and I really enjoyed that. There were four big shrimp, plenty of calamari rings, and yet only one full squid with tentacles. The tentacles are my favorite part so I wish there were more, however the four shrimp and rings were plenty filling. The basil sprinkled on top was incredibly fresh— it tasted like it was just picked out of the garden— and added a nice herbaceous flavor to the dish.
Katie ordered the balsamic glazed roasted salmon with spinach risotto. The salmon was cooked perfectly, slightly pink and soft on the inside, just the way we like it. The risotto was rich and creamy; too much cheese for my liking, but Katie really enjoyed it. Both entrées were big and we couldn’t finish either dish.
For dessert we ordered the Chocolate panna cotta. Neither of us really knew what panna cotta was. We learned that it is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing it with gelatin (in this case chocolate), and letting it cool until it sets. It was then topped with fresh whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate. We absolutely loved the creamy, silky texture and chocolate flavor. It was the prefect way to end out meal.
The service was incredibly friendly and we really enjoyed our evening at Ristorante Olivio. If you are looking for authentic an authentic Italian restaurant, with great food, and a warm and welcoming environment, without the high prices and congestion of North End restaurants, then I would recommend Ristorante Olivio’s in a heartbeat.