The Stuffed Olive 

I like quaint restaurants. One of my favorite little places is in Glendale, Arizona. With just four tables, it is a bakery by day and serves up Italian cuisine at night. Often the wait for a table is hours, which are spent sitting on the sidewalk outside, but the food is divine. With less than 10 tables, The Stuffed Olive in Eagle qualifies as a small restaurant. Decorated simply with a small staff and a cozy atmosphere, it has many of the same qualities as that little place in Glendale. We took the advice on www.thestuffedolive.net and made reservations before showing up. A large leather couch sits just inside the door and functions as a waiting space. Though the couch takes up space in which the restaurant could have crammed in a few more tables, I'm glad they didn't. Waiting generates excitement and although we didn't wait at all for our table, I wouldn't have minded sitting there.

Menus, waters and warm bread with a marinara sauce were quickly brought to our table. The menu selections were varied and offered appetizers, salads, soups, gourmet sandwiches, pasta dishes and dinner entrees. Selecting what turned out to be an exquisite wine from the wine menu, we started with breaded calamari strips, which were thick, long and tasty with either the red pepper aioli or the leftover marinara that was served with the bread. We split a spinach salad with prosciutto, pine nuts, asiago cheese and dressing on the side, which arrived soon after the calamari—almost too quickly. However, the split portion of salad was the right amount, as part of a multi-course meal.

The garlic lamb baguette and the salami focaccia sounded scrumptious for lunch, but we were there for dinner, and dinner we ordered. The pastas, in a variety of shapes, sizes and sauces, put our salivary glands into action, but the entree items intrigued us most. My companion enjoyed her eggplant carciofini, a breaded eggplant with a creamy garlic sauce and artichoke hearts. I opted for the roast garlic leg of lamb. Both were delicious and served with a side of angel hair pasta in a rich and velvety alfredo sauce. Dessert was a tiramisu to share, the delicate ladyfingers melting in our mouths.

The service was quick, responsive, and enjoyable overall, but the pace of the meal was too fast. It would have been much more enjoyable to space out the appetizer, second course, entree and dessert over a longer period of time. Prices were extremely reasonable for the quality and quantity of food we ordered.

Aside from the lighting being a tad too bright for our fancy date-night dinner and the feeling of being a little rushed (a much better sin than the feeling of waiting forever), The Stuffed Olive is a worthy dining experience to be enjoyed.

—Bingo Barnes does 5,280 sit ups every noon and night.

The Stuffed Olive, 404 S. Eagle Rd., 938-5185, Mon.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

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