Can it be 24 years ago that Olivo in Elccleston St first opens its doors? It soon became a groundbreaking restaurant serving Sardinian cuisine and quite different from the “in” Italian restaurant with signed photos of the stars, 12 forms of veal escalope, insalate tricalore and highly calorific desserts, though whatever did happen to the Zabaglione? Olivo became highly popular and because of its lack of size could not accommodate the demand. So they opened a second, and a third, and now have six. Some who worked there started something similar like Zafferelli.
I wemt back last Thursday and was agreeably surprised that little has changed. I chose a cuttle fish in black ink and spaghetti alla Bottarga, a sort of mullet fish. Both scrumptious. I capped it with a refreshing sorbet. Aside from the sorbet I have been ordering these dishes over the years. It was accompanied by a Gavi. There was little criticism justifiable. £65 per head was not outrageous these days for good wine, 3 courses and coffee. Perhaps the dining could have been more comfortable as due to its size the tables are compacted. Once you could find the owner Mauro present, then it was supervised by a warm girl called Maria, now another young lady was in charge but she seemed to know her business. With 6 restaurants to run, Mauro must be stuck in some office, confined to the logistics of the operation but Olivo has remained true to its core Sard cuisine and restaurant values. Personally I was never that impressed by those restauranteurs that took the celeb route, or others who branched into cookery books and cookery holidays. Stick to what you do well and stay in the back ground, I say. If you do so there is a chance in 24 years’ time you will still be in business.
Victoria is a diverse place for a restaurant, not fashionable Chelsea or Knightsbridge, nor the commercial West End. The diners were a mix of the corporate and the bohemian. There was one fellow who seeemd recognisable but I didn’t, greeting diners he knew. I adore both Italian men and Italian cuisine but I have never chosen an Italian restaurant for an intime a deux, too noisy. I would rather play footsie under the candlelight and plush red brocades of a French bistro!!!