171 Waverley Road
Malvern East, VIC 3145
(03) 9572 4487

I’ve been meaning to return my good friend G’s copy of Eat, Pray, Love for a while now. For anybody who hasn’t seen it, I highly recommend it! The scenes shot in Italy are amazing. And all that food, glorious food! The first time I saw it, I just wanted to jump on a plane, fly all the way to Rome and plummet into a food-induced coma.

Dramatics aside, G just landed an awesome new job at a marketing research place about five minutes down the road from my work, so we decided to catch up over dinner the other night. L’Olivo just happened to be smack bang in the middle of us. It was pretty hopping for a Tuesday – I was glad I had made a last-minute reservation on my lunch break earlier that day. I’ve struck out a few times in the past with L’Olivo because they’re always super busy, so if you ever plan on swinging by, be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

One thing I should make a point of is that the service is always impeccable here. The wait staff was patient with us when we deliberated over what to order and were happy to answer all of the menu-related questions we peppered them with. I came here a few months ago for my sister’s birthday, and even with the littlies running up and down the middle aisle like they were jacked up on Red Bull, the waiters wove their way through effortlessly and still found the time to bring the kids colouring books and pencils. As a family-run restaurant, it was like being served a home-cooked meal by old friends.

L’Olivo boasts a pretty extensive menu, with a wide selection of tapas, two entire pages of pizza and pasta to choose from, and a handful of Mediterranean-inspired mains and desserts. I’m usually wary of ‘fusion’ restaurants; I can never shake the feeling that quantity would compromise quality, etc. Plus, my brain isn’t equipped to deal with information overload. But I think L’Olivo manages to pull it off.

G and I started off with a few drinks and shared a small Reggio pizza between us, topped with tomatoes, cheese, pesto, chicken, bocconcini, olives, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes and basil (15.0). It was rustic and gutsy and delicious. We wolfed it down in record timing.

Chinotto (4.5), Lemon lime & bitters (4.0)

Reggio pizza: tomato, cheese, pesto, chicken, bocconcini, olives, red onion, sun-dried tomato and basil (15.0)

To follow up, I had the Atlantic salmon with lemonata potatoes and salad (26.0). The salmon was grilled to perfection; the soft pink flesh flaked off the skin beautifully and went hand in hand with the zesty lemonata potatoes. All it needed was a little more seasoning, but no biggie.

Atlantic salmon with lemonata potatoes and salad (26.0)

G chose the Penne Spicy Sausage; penne with chorizo, chilli, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, parsley and Napoli sauce (18.5). After some thoughtful chewing, she announced that while it was incredibly tasty, it didn’t quite have the kick she was looking for.

Penne spicy sausage: penne with chorizo, chilli, olives, sun-tomatoes, garlic, parsley and Napoli sauce (18.5)

All things considered, L’Olivo is versatility on a plate. Whether you’re after an intimate meal with a loved one or catching up with the gang over pizza, its relaxed ambiance and simple but honest menu caters to everyone. Even though dinner was missing a little bit of pizzazz, I still left with a smile on my face and every intention of coming back because a) the service was top-notch and b) we spied these delicious looking bad boys on our way out.

Loukoumades with honey, cinnamon and crushed walnuts

L'Olivo on Urbanspoon


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