Olivomare – London
by Tessa Tapscott
Though we ate like kings and queens the next day, Thanksgiving that is, the Intolerant Family went out the evening before for reasons that I will not confirm, nor deny, that involved a certain yours truly entering this world. My dear mother did copious research into the restaurant for the evening and chose Olivomare that specializes in Sardinian seafood, perfect for the pescatarian in me.
We barely got a reservation (our party was large), so it was imperative we arrive on time they said. London evening traffic however made that a more trying endeavor. Finally, we tumbled out of two packed cabs, tensions high. These were quickly assuaged by the friendly hosts who seemed not to notice we were 20 minutes late.
Although the inside is extremely modern, with jelly-fish-like ceiling fixtures and tessellating oceanic patterns on the walls, the whole staff seemed like one big Italian family — always a good sign.
Ernie bantered with the waiter about his origins, making sure to enthusiastically yell the name of his parents’ hometowns while throwing up his hands in Mediterranean excitement. In no time, prosecco was poured and bubbling cheerfully down the table as we debated the menu with each other. The prawns for my nephew, of course, and someone had to get the spicy lobster pasta doused in truffle oil. While Ernie pushed the half lobster on me, knowing my great weakness for expensive crustacean, I instead went for the Cassola di Pesce, Sardinian fish stew made with tomatoes, chili and garlic. Stew? You say. All of those wonderful options and you chose stew? Yes. And it was delicious. All the fish was cooked perfectly and mingled with the hot, beautifully seasoned broth so well one could only assume they had a giant pot of fishy parts simmering in the back.
As a starter, I could not resist the Alici con Zucchine (anchovy salad over grilled zucchini). I like anchovies so this wasn’t much of a stretch for me, but the real tell was that my mother even loved it. I think it was because the fish were not overly salty or bony like they tend to be. They were either fresh or had been soaked. Paired with the rocket and zucchini, it was a fresh and light starter packed with EFA’s (essential fatty acids) and calcium. Next to me, Ernie and my mother shared the Astice (lobster) pasta with white truffle oil. (They had just come back from the truffle festival in Alba and were all about truffles).
Oh, yes, pasta. Mom’s latest adaptation into gluten-free eating is to call ahead and ask if they have gluten-free pasta. Often they do not, as was the case at Olivomare (and one can only imagine a shutter of fear at losing a party of eight). So when she asked if they would cook ours if we brought it, they said yes of course and were thrilled they could serve us.
From the bits and pieces I could snag from my mother’s plate I can conclude that was probably my most favorite lobster dish I have ever had. Everything was cooked perfectly from the succulent lobster and slightly al dente pasta to the fiery sauce (made extra fiery by the chili oil that got accidentally dumped over it).
By the end, I think I had tried almost everything on the table I could , except for the prawns which were gobbled immediately by hungry little fingers. I was really busting out of my new high-waisted Versace jeans. Ok, they’re Versace’s inexpensive line for H&M, still beautiful, but not conducive to massive eating.
This dinner occurred before I had truly suffered the wrath of my body when confronted by dairy. I ordered the frozen yogurt that came in blueberry and bitter honey flavors. I think they make it there. No matter how much pain and suffering it caused I would get that yogurt again if I could. Other desserts included fresh sorbets for the dairy-challenged and a bountiful cheese plate brimming with aromatic goat’s cheese.
At what many would consider a young age, I have become quite cynical and un-enthused about the passage of another year in my life. However, if it involves spending this day eating food like we had at Olivomare, I can forget my apprehensions about aging and look forward to lifetime of fabulous dinners.
10 Lower Belgrave Street
London, SW1W 0LJ, United Kingdom
+44 (0) 20 7730 9022
Mom note: sorry there are no images. It was too dark and we were already disruptive given the size of our group. Ernie and I have another visit planned and hopefully I can get some decent images.