by Melissa Kravitz
|Outside Olio e Piu --credit|
New York is a city of late nights, good food, endless drinks, and romantic ambiance. But, surprisingly or not, it's hard to find all those qualities in the same place. There are plenty of late-night eateries, but they're not serving the quality of food that you would find at an establishment that closes at 11 p.m. There are plenty of dark, romantic spots for drinks after midnight, but many of them feel cheesy or overpriced –– or both. Enter Olio e Piu, a rustic Tuscan restaurant right on the edge of the West Village that leaves its pizza oven burning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
|The oven at Olio --credit|
The enchanting dining room is dim with candlelight, and an upright piano in the back corner occasionally calls for a diner's performance. In warmer months, sit on the outdoor sidewalk café, adorned with plenty of vines and flowers.
Start your meal with a small bite, like a bowl of mixed imported Italian olives ($4) or a selection of bruschetta with ricotta or sun-dried tomato pesto ($6-$9). A basket of warm focaccia ($4) comes straight from the wood oven and has the crisp, yet chewy texture of the most desirable pizza dough.
|Ricotta Bruschetta and Insalata di Pera --credit|
Warm up with a tomato bisque zuppa, topped with herbed croutons and garlic oil ($8). The soup itself is a bit thick, not your average creamy bisque, but the fragrant tomato mixture is perfect for dipping focaccia.
Some of the simplest options on Olio's menu are truly the best: letting the fresh ingredients stand out and the detailed preparation shine in each bite. The Fritto Misto antipasto ($15) features fresh, crispy calamari rings, large succulent shrimp that make "shrimp" sound like an oxymoron, and sweet artichoke hearts, all fried in a light, crunchy batter and served with a spicy tomato dipping sauce.
Insalata di Pera ($13) should not be missed! Fresh, cold arugula is topped with sweet poached pears and sprinkled with gorgonzola and candied walnuts. The generous portion is dressed lightly in balsamic vinaigrette, making it a perfect opener for a heavy pasta meal to come.
All of the pasta at Olio e Piu are homemade, and available as a first course, a side to pizza or meat courses, or on their own as an entree.
The Spaghetti ai Frutti di Mare ($19) is a bowl of pasta and seafood large enough to share, but its so good you may want to keep it all to yourself. Al dente spaghetti in a spice red sauce with a hint of wine, is topped with Italian clams, small sweet mussels, and large twists of pink shrimp.
The homemade gnocchi ($17) is fluffy and flavorful, tossed in a fresh basil pesto with chunks of salty ricotta salata.
Cavatelli ai Funghi ($18) is made from a thick homemade pasta, packed with fall mushrooms, burgundy truffles, pickled red onion, and chunky ricotta salata. The pasta is fantastic, and the rich, creamy sauce grabs onto the flat noodles perfectly, but the overall dish is a bit too busy. The chunks of cheese and slices of pickled onion overwhelm the flavors a bit, and set off the balance of an otherwise tasty recipe.
|Cavatelli al Fungi --credit|
For a healthy side of greens, opt for the friarielli ($7): sautéed broccoli rabe with slices of Italian sausage flavored with roasted garlic chips and chili flakes. The classic dish is flavorful and pleasant, complementing any pasta and adding a few extra vitamins to your carb splurge.
And if you're still hungry for dessert, Olio offers a bunch of tantalizing options. Alongside a wonderfully fluffy cappuccino ($4.50), dig into homemade gelato and sorbet ($8 for three scoops), in flavors like espresso, pistachio, and watermelon; or indulge in a molten chocolate cake ($8).
Anytime of day or night, Olio e Piu is a deligtful Italian restaurant with friendly, attentive service. Stop in for a quick bite of Tuscany or an hours-long feast enhanced by its broad selection of Italian wines.
|The charming interior at Olio e Piu|