Friday, August 23, 2013

Olio e Piu: Rustic Neapolitan Fare In The Heart Of The West Village!

By: Anne M. Raso

I fell in love with the rustic charm of Olio e Piu the minute I stepped in. It was a perfect 76 degree evening and the ceiling to floor front panels were opened to reveal colorful sidewalk tables that looked out on legendary West Village sites like the Jefferson Market Library and and CE Bigelow Pharmacy.

I couldn't wait to try what was promised to be real Neapolitan fare including wood oven baked pizzas with homemade mozzarella and pasta made on the premises that you can actually buy from their refrigerator case and take home to prepare yourself for only $6 a pound. They also make their own very light EV olive oil back in the old country that is sold on the premises. I started off with Insalata di Pera ($13), a salad made with extra tender organic baby arugula leaves, moist dried figs, poached pears and candied walnuts and topped with the house olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a touch of lemon juice. It’s one of the best salads I have had all year and is quite filling thanks to the hearty and sweet figs.
Tagliatelle Bolognese
Next was time for the pasta course. The Tagliatelle Bolognese ($16) features Olio’s tender homemade long pasta strips and the preparation is classic Bolognese—olive oil, basil leaves, ground mixed meats, and plum tomatoes cooked to perfection. I would say it would be harder to find a more “real” Neapolitan pasta dish in the entire city. The portion is average size but very filling. The aforementioned salad and Tagliatelle Bolognese shared by two people are definitely enough to leave them feeling full.
Nostrana Pizza
This place is famous for its pizza, so you just know I had to share one with my dining partner! I noticed almost the entire crowd of diners going for the white pizzas because the fresh ricotta and mozz used at Olio are so divine. We tried the Nostrana Pizza ($17), which has the classic Neapolitan crust, which is made softer than that of American pies. The dough was soft, buttery and delightful—and the layer of ricotta, mozzarella and fine prosciutto topped with truffle oil put this Italian classic into new levels of sinfulness. The two cheeses along with the fat from the prosciutto and the truffle oil created a pool of buttery goodness.
Lemon Ricotta Panna Cotta
For dessert, my dining partner and I shared the Lemon Ricotta Panna Cotta ($9--which was extra creamy and topped with raspberry compote, cannoli crumbs and chocolate shavings--and then we moved on to our choice of any three scoops of gelato or sorbet on the menu ($8). We chose Pictaccio Di Sicilia gelato, and then the Watermelon and Blood Orange sorbets. All were made on the premises, and I could not resist getting pistachio gelato since it is a classic Italian flavor and it’s been way underused in all areas of American cooking for years; even Pistachio ice cream fell out of public favor in the 70s despite its unique taste. The gelato was just as creamy as I expected and the sorbets tasted very natural and appeared to be sweetened with agave nectar. The watermelon sorbet was naturally much sweeter than the blood orange sorbet, and I will say that the Blood Orange’s citrusy and slightly sour kick was the perfect way to end a perfect meal!
Gelato and Sorbet
Treat yourself to a walk around this very historic and well-preserved part of the West Village after dinner at Olio and don’t forget to take home some of the house pasta and olive oil!

Olio e Piu
3 Greenwich Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-6546
Cuisine: Italian

Olio Pizza e PiĆ¹ on Urbanspoon

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