entrance to L'Olive Restaurant in Venice

L’Olive Restaurant in Venice, Florida

L’Olive Restaurant in Venice, Florida is the perfect place for a romantic dinner, or just to enjoy some delicious Mediterranean cuisine. With its bright atmosphere and attentive service, you’re sure to have an unforgettable meal. L’Olive is located outside of the normal hustle that Venice offers, in an unassuming shopping plaza anchored by the Winn Dixie at Jacaranda Blvd and Center Rd. The menu offers many options for both meat lovers and vegetarians alike, making it a sweet harmony for even the hardest to please diner. It’s also worth mentioning that there are also plenty of delicious desserts to choose from. If you’re looking for a little bit of the Mediterranean in America, L’Olive is the place for you!

Why You Need To Visit L’Olive Restaurant in Venice

After a brief hiatus, Chef Ismail is back at the helm in the kitchen at L’Olive. His culinary expertise and passion for food clearly shines through with the dishes coming out of the kitchen. Jason and I had the pleasure of meeting him, and while we were talking, his eyes sparkled with excitement talking about the specials and his favorite dishes to make (Kebobs!). Let me tell you all about our experience and why you need to make your reservations to go try it out for yourself.

What Is The Inside of The Restaurant Like?

entrance to L'Olive Restaurant in Venice

The ambiance is incredibly inviting! When you first walk in, the hostess stand is adorned with the restaurants logo, with a lovely garden feature on the wall. The mirrors alongside the ivy make the space feel much larger than it is. The sunlight streams through the windows along the front to add to the bright interior. With white linen tablecloths and sturdy, comfortable chairs, it’s easy to settle in for a delicious meal.

What Are The Prices Like?

L'Olive Restaurant Menu

The menu offers a nice variety of entree dishes priced between $22 for the Chicken Souvlaki or Manti (Turkish Dumplings) all the way up to $38 for the Lamb Rib Chops. If you’re looking for something more budget friendly, check it out during lunch (Between 11 am to 4 pm) there are wraps available for as low as $12. For spreads, they are $10 each or you can choose 4 sampler size spreads in a mezze platter for $22. For appetizers, this also has a wide range, from a plate of french fries (dressed up with a delicious garlic aioli, parsley and parmesan) for $7, up to the infamous chargrilled Spanish octopus for $18. There’s something for almost every budget.

Is There Beer and Wine Available?

Yes! There is an extensive beer and wine list to choose from. Bottle beers range from $5-7, while wines by the glass range from $10-$15. If you want wine by the bottle, there are 10 white wines from $28-$38 and 12 red wines from $28-$72.

Are There Options for Gluten Free?

The great thing about Mediterranean food is that everything is made with fresh ingredients. There are several spreads, entrees and dishes that are gluten free. Just keep in mind that most commercials kitchens do have the risk of cross contamination, so for those with a severe allergy, alert the staff before hand of your condition.

Is This A Good Restaurant for Vegetarians?

Absolutely. The delicious spreads are fantastic for vegetarians, along with the lentil soup, burrata and other salads. There’s also falafel, crispy cigark borek(crispy pastry with feta and mozzarella), and dolmadaki (stuffed grape leaves). If you are more of a pescatarian, there are delicious seafood entrees such as salmon, branzino, garides scampi and a seafood tagliatelle pasta.

What Dishes Are Low Carb on The Menu?

If you’re trying to eat a more low carb diet in Venice, this is a great restaurant to try out. You can choose one of the delicious salads or an arrangement of appetizers as a meal or order the Mediterranean Branzino as your entree as low carb options.

Is this easily accessible for parking and seating?

Thanks to it’s location inside of the Winn Dixie plaza, it is a large parking lot with easy to find handicap parking and accessible sidewalks. The restaurant itself is laid out well with plenty of space to move around, making it comfortable for all guests.

Our Experience at L’Olive Restaurant

Now that you know a bit about the restaurant and what to expect on the menu, let me tell you about our experience. We were so pleased to be invited to try the menu and were delighted to meet the owner and the chef on our visit. There are big plans in the works for the new lunch menu and for future events with the Foodies! But that’s for a different post. We walked in to a dining area filled with sunshine and greenery. The bar area straight ahead was decorated beautifully with bottles of wine on the back wall, framing a window into the kitchen. Everything works like a finely tuned machine, and we were excited to give it a try.

Appetizers

We were first offered a small plate with olive oil and an olive tapenade with a warm pita for dipping. The olive flavor wasn’t as strong as I’ve had at other places, which suited me well! I probably could have made a meal out of that starter alone. We choose the mezze sampler to start with, choosing hummus, htipiti, carrot tarator, and shakshouka, all served in smaller portioned bowls with warm pita bread.

The hummus was creamy with a hint of cumin and za’atar spice with a generous swirl of olive oil. (If you are unfamiliar with Za’atar, it is one of my favorite spice blends and I use it on everything. It’s generally a middle eastern spice blend of toasted sesame seeds, sumac and sea salt.) I could not stop dipping my spoon in for more and more! I loved that it incorporated a few whole chickpeas to add another layer of texture to it. For such a simple dish, it was made well and was memorable. Htipiti was Jason’s favorite, a mix of fire-roasted red peppers with marinated feta, walnuts and parsley. He was amazed at how the flavors notes of the fire roasting came through against the intensity of the feta. The carrot tarator was different than I had experienced or made myself, it was dominated more by the carrots and the olive oil flavors than the creaminess of the yogurt with a slight horseradish kick I was not expecting, but complimented the sweetness of the carrots well. Shakshouka is a chunkier spread, with roasted eggplant, green pepper and tomatoes with a touch of garlic, fresh and flavorful either on a spoon or on top of the warm pita.

From Top to bottom: Shakshouka, Hummus, Htipiti and Carrot Tarator with warm pita in the middle.
From Top to bottom: Shakshouka, Hummus, Htipiti and Carrot Tarator with warm pita in the middle.

Entrees

Adana Kebob

Jason chose the Greek prawns, which was also recommended by the chef. They were large yet tender, and surprisingly spot on. It is so easy to overcook seafood and this was just the right level, in a delicious ouzo infused buttery sauce. Jason says that it melted in his mouth and I have to agree. What was even more surprising is that he loved the Israili couscous salad. Normally he shies away from ancient grains or anything involving healthy veggies or foods. I had to fight him for a forkful to try it for myself! We were both very impressed.

I asked Chef Ismail what his favorite dish to make was, and he answered the kebobs, specifically the Adana. Knowing this, that had to be my choice. The Adana Kebob is a ground lamb chargrilled and served over a cracked wheat bulgur pilaf with a nice grilled tomato, grilled shishito peppers, onions and a side dish of tzatziki sauce.

Every bite was better than the last. The meat was grilled perfectly, and paired well with the grilled veggies on the side. I loved the pilaf, it was so full of flavor and when combined with the meat and veggies, I practically forgot the tzatziki was even there! (It was tasty with nice sized chunks of cucumber and a pop of fresh dill.)

Greek Prawns

Final Thoughts

I wish I could tell you about the desserts, but we were so full that we decided to pass until next time. However, if the meal was any indication of Chef’s culinary skills, I’m sure it would have been delicious. I finished my meal with a hot cup of Turkish tea (my favorite), and savored every sip. Jason and I spent the rest of the evening talking about our meal, when we could go back and try other things and what we would have to order again. This restaurant may be outside the normal areas for dining options in Venice, but it’s well worth a visit.

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