We had been to Oliveto three times previously but never to one of their annual series of special dinners. The Oceanic dinners offered a taste of the wonderful sustainable offerings from Monterey Fish Market. As an added enticement, this year they poured some of the legendary Fiorano wines by-the-glass.
Overall, dinner was at the level we've previously experienced at Oliveto. A few stand-out dishes and overall good food, but a failure to capture excellence throughout. It's also an expensive date (especially at this dinner) and there really shouldn't be any less-than-stellar dishes offered to us. However the spark in the kitchen to create innovative dishes is obviously alive and well.
The waitstaff was well-trained and well versed in the menu. The wine service was generally good - but serving the Breton wine too warm was not okay with us. I believe we will return again for another special menu.
Crudo of Wild Striped Bass (trap) with Prosecco and Herb gelatina
The fish was wonderful and the gelée a nice accompaniment but the delicacy was lost with too many herbs.
Chilled Octopus (trap) soppressata with Castelvetrano Olives, Celery Hearts and Monte Iblei Olive Oil
The octopus was pressed and then shaved. Etherally light. The celery and salt added an awesome tiny crunch. Very salty olives perfect color match. First bite with eyes closed you only could guess that's a seafood dish on the finish. Very elegant. YUM. An inspired dish.
Crostini of Spicy Monkfish Liver (trap) pâté with Knoll Farm arugula
The Costini was burned on one side. The liver pâté was runny. The spicyness of the pâté was well balanced by the olive oil on the crostini. The arugula was nice with it, but there was also a lot of arugula.
Fritto misto: Softshell Crab (trap), Monterey Bay Anchovies (purse seine), Salt Cod and Grass Shrimp (trawl) with 'Cecil Brunner' Rose Vinegar Sauce
Lightly coated with cornmeal. The best softshell crab we can remember. The sauce needed to be on the side rather than underneath and the portion needed to be shared by more than the or the ratio of shrimp/crab/anchovies reduced in quanitity and lightened on the shrimp side.
Consommé of Northern Halibut with White Beans, Artichokes, and Summer Squash with bottarga di tonno
A very nice showcase for halibut. The consomme was very clear. Nice use of beans and vegetables - the color balance was lovely. Too much parsely sprinkled over, was annoying. A bit salty.
Tagliatelle with Lobster Coral (trap) and Porcini Mushrooms
I wrongly assumed the lobster coral would be mixed in. The Tagliatelle in fact was made with the Lobster Coral which makes the pasta a beautiful coral pink. While the roe tagliatelle is a nice idea the novelty wears off quickly and the porcini pieces could not carry the dish alone.
Whole Fish in bella vista: Pink Sea Bream (trap) in risotto bianco with old balsamico
Nice and crispy and a lovely-looking whole fish - excellent. The risotto was a nice foil on the first few bites but became tiresome as it was so elegant in style it verged on being boring.
Wines: (by the glass) 1994 Fiorano Malvasia di Candia Botte 26 (Boncampagni Ludovisi)
Light caramel and frangipane with underlying cooked banana on the nose. The varietal really shines through with broiled lemon and a hard tart finish with almost a tea-like element like white tea with lemon. 4
1990 Fiorano Semillon Botte 47 (Boncampagni Ludovisi)
Slightly lighter in color than the Malvasia. Extremely expressive nose of honey and lavender. Notes of shale and minerals and white peach with a finish of white grapefruit and tart pineapple and some light caramel. Extremely good structure. 12
2006 Domaine Costal Chablis Les Truffieres Burgundy
Wet minerals and creamy green apple on the nose. Crisp tart apples and asian pear in center with minerals and hazelnuts. Very clean finish with lots of acids and crushed hazelnuts. 2-3+
2005 Breton Bourgueil Dilletante
This wine was served too warm. Smokey nose of rich kalamata olive. Center of olive and walnut pesto with a very tannic finish and lots of smoke. Slightly puckering but long finish. Good balance. Rosemary and black figs are an element. A little later intense black walnut (or even green walnut) on the finish with a coffee-like character. Really interesting wine that changed in the glass. 2-4?
2004 Contini Vermentino di Sardegna Tyros
Nose of shale and ripe pineapple. Minerally but with a round rich center hinting at vanilla. Minerals on the finish. Jack thought it was a very nice wine. 3?
NV St. Michael-Eppan Bianco Passito Comtess
Caramelized white peach on nose. Intense white peach and sugar in center. Slightly syrupy but really great acids. 2+
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.