Where Locals Go

Oliva Italian Eatery

Review by Frank Geslani | Photos by Lorraine Haan-Stewart

If you were big city players in the restaurant biz and your collective resume included managing stints for Chef Jean-George Vongerichten, catering for Martha Stewart, overseeing restaurant openings in Europe, and rubbing elbows with celebrichef Rocco DiSpirito, where would you open your restaurant? My last guess would have been a non-descript retail strip flanked by housing developments 17 miles north of downtown Fort Worth. Thatテ「冱 exactly where Cynthia and Justin Loeb set up shop. Oliva, the Loebsテ「 unassuming Italian eatery, is not what you may expect from the power couple. Itテ「冱 better.

The food colors neatly within the Italian-American catalogueテ「敗paghetti and meatballs, lasagna, fettuccine alfredo , mozzarella Caprese, shrimp scampi. You donテ「冲 come to Oliva looking for foraged, hyper-seasonal, composed plates. You come with a hankering for good chicken parm, plump ravioli or strands of al dente pasta lavished with creamy goodness and paying less than you would at one of the big chains. We admired the simple goodness of chicken Toscana, tender chicken and pasta invigorated by capers, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and a light lemonbutter white wine sauce.

We were also impressed by their gluten free menu. My son, who has a mild wheat allergy, relishes the Pasta Oliva, spaghetti bathed in faultless vodka sauce, magnified by olives, mushrooms, artichokes, tomatoes and capers. It didnテ「冲 taste of soul-crushing compromise, as token gluten free offerings often do. Cynthia, who has been gluten free for eight years, takes pride in presenting a fully realized gluten free menu, certainly the biggest weテ「况e seen in the area.

The Loebsテ「 wine expertise and industry savvy also allows them to sells wine at astounding prices. Cynthia was Martha Stewartテ「冱 personal sommelier for years, and her expert palate is now at our service. They offer an intriguing list of 20 wines for $20, and 10 other bottles for $10 more. Weテ「决e talking about some real finds here, not cast-off bottles, and at a mark-up that competes with wine shops for value.

Wine dinners are a real treat. Justin gets to show off a little bit in the kitchen with five off-menu courses paired with five wines, all for $50. You may be treated to falling-off-the-bone osso bucco or Spanish tapas to go with Spanish wines. If you get wind of these dinners, reserve early as they have been known to sell out in a day. One quickly realizes how efficiently service is conducted. The Loebs have revived the lost art of silent service. Servers anticipate your needs without being intrusiveテ「杯here when you need them, gone when you donテ「冲. Itテ「冱 surprising how often restaurants get this wrong, even at fine dining establishments.

The restaurantテ「冱 charitable work canテ「冲 go unmentioned. The Loebs initially moved to Texas to be with family, particularly to support their niece, Emerson, who has Prader-Willi Syndrome. Their fundraising and advocacy for Prader-Willi awareness is well-known in the area, but their goodwill extends beyond that. Oliva sits atop everyoneテ「冱 list for hosting or catering fundraising dinners.

Thereテ「冱 a real sense of community here, too. Cynthia, who is a constant presence at the restaurant, seems to know everyone who walks through the door, and that familiarity breeds a remarkable range of repeat diningテ「巴usiness luncheons, prom dates, marriage proposals, anniversary dinners. The Loebs could have settled on any corner of the globe, but theyテ「况e settled (and thrived) among us, even expanding their empire with the beloved Tex-Mex spot, elote, across the street. With Oliva, they gave the community what it desperately needed, a restaurant that cares, becoming a neighborhood restaurant in the truest sense.

Olivia Italian Eateryテつ |テつ 12477 Timberland Boulevardテつ |テつ Suite 633テつ |テつ Fort Worth 76244
817) 337-6999テつ |テつ www.olivaeatery.com