Olivia looks to the Mediterranean and nets some creative dishes
Whitewashed brick walls now serve as backdrops for 70 pieces of new art and the assorted dining rooms (including several of the best private spaces in town) feel fresh with greenery, actual and faux. Glass wine jugs, suspended in nets, draw eyes upward. The splashiest seats in the house, its name chosen to underscore the role of olives throughout the Mediterranean, may be the banquettes covered in vivid Hermes palm tree prints.
The switch tastes good, too, with some of the prize dishes playing up vegetables. Matt Kuhn, the executive chef at Nopa, calls the change of brands “a comfortable transition” made easier by a 12-day trip to Spain last summer and the fact he got to audition a few ideas at the retired restaurant en route to opening Olivia. Nopa fans might recognize, for instance, the octopus carpaccio on the menu, a cool maritime mosaic ignited with Fresno chiles, dots of peri-peri aioli and pickled potatoes. Carrot hummus dressed with carrot “pearls” and thinned with carrot juice is runny to my taste. A better meatless impression is chickpea ravioli filled with hummus and centered on a moat of liquid pecorino and “Bolognese” coaxed from chopped mushrooms.