Olivia’s Bistro (Adam’s Street near Watertown Street) opened in January, but we only recently were introduced by nieghbors.
The space is divided into a bar and a large dining room with an open kitchen. The room has a clean, slightly modern yet nondescript feel, with polished concrete floors (though the tables are on rugs), wood tables, and heavy metal chairs (so much so that the chairs don’t slide easily on the rugs). The menu (despite the “bistro” in the name) is Italian. Rustic bread with olive oil was delivered to the table after taking our beverage order. Did not do a deep dive on the wine list since we were swayed by the Lucente “special” posted on a blackboard.The bread was servicable, but the olive oil was not EVOO and a bit disappointing. Four of us shared a funghi pizza (excellent, funky foraged mushrooms, a bit heavy on the cheese to my taste, though I was in the minority on that point, and an excellent crust with a nice amount of char), a simple arugula salad (nicely dressed and a generous portion), as well as the truffle fries. The fries were thick-cut, and only small fries or pointy ends were crisp. We’ll pass on those next time.
For mains two of us had squid-ink house-made papardelle with calimari and shrimp in a spicy red tomato sauce. I think this was the standout amoung the entrees - delicious and pasta cooked perfectly al dente. My SO had veal Milanese, which was accompanied by an arugula and tomato salad garnished with slices of Parmiggiano. Both salad and veal were generous portion, however the veal seemed a bit heavy, perhaps suffering from being fried in the same poor-quality oil that was served with the bread. Third entree was beef short rib over creamy polenta. This was well received but could have benefited from additional braising - it was definitely not fork-tender.
Having ordered hungry we didn’t have room for desert, however we did peruse the list. Several homemade deserts looked interesting (Nutella two ways) and a variety of gelati and sorbetti were complemented by a list of cafe coretto and amaro.
Service was friendly and efficient. They seem to be doing well - the room was full and there was always a smattering of people congregated near the door waiting for tables. A welcome addition to the neighborhood, but overall we rank it a bit below Cook. A lack of attention to quality ingredients seems to be the main shortcoming.