I have been to my fair share of restaurants that have served Mediterranean or, more specifically, Greek food. So I can say with confidence what I do and do not like about what I have sampled throughout the years.
The most important aspect for me is the flavor. It has to have the right amount of spices to please my taste buds without overwhelm them. So when I heard about this promising place close to home, Oliveo Grill, I immediately wanted to try it.
Oliveo Grill, Greek Kouzina is a casual, quick-serve Greek restaurant located in Tempe and within walking distance of Arizona State University. They are open for the regular lunch and dinner hours with a reasonably priced menu, as well as open until 3 a.m. for late-night cravings.
My dinner companion and I decided to visit the Oliveo Grill on a Saturday night. We were immediately surprised by the dining choices the area offered us. There were a number of small restaurants that had similar food as Oliveo, so I wondered if I would find something unique there that would make me want to come back again.
Once we arrived, I was drawn in by the warm and fresh colors of the place. The brown and light olive green was welcoming, and there was no urgency to get in and get out, though the employees were ready to take your order to-go. A few tastefully-placed photos on the walls showed scenes of Greece. Despite the small space, it didn’t feel crowded and was instead a relaxing environment where I could enjoy my meal and company for as long as I wished.
We ordered at the door before sitting down. The menu was displayed behind the counter but I almost immediately knew what I wanted as I had been studying and salivating over their menu online. It was difficult to choose an appetizer as we were interested in more than one, but it came down to the one that seemed unique to Oliveo – the Greek Bruschetta.
The pita bread was soft and brushed with olive oil underneath the vibrant colored toppings. The tomatoes tasted fresh and while the pesto and cheese were full of flavor it didn’t overwhelm the rest of the dish.
Soon after polishing off the appetizer, our plates arrived. I had ordered lamb souvlaki with brown rice and Greek fries while my companion had the classic Gyro plate with brown rice and their chipotle hummus. I was unfamiliar with Greek fries and it wasn’t often that I had the opportunity to have a lamb dish, so I was eager to try the two.
I was surprised by the sharp flavor of the Greek fries’ lemon dijon dressing with the parmesan and feta cheese. By the time that I turned my attention to the lamb souvlaki, I was curious as to whether or not I would have a similar reaction. It didn’t disappoint as the seasoning combined perfectly with the well-cooked meat, urging me to ignore the rest of the dish while I continued to enjoy its flavor.
The Gyro meat was a familiar and great flavor, which was even more improved by the tzatziki included with the plate. When I sampled the hummus, it had a nice kick to it from the spicy chipotle, and the garbanzo bean flavor was fresh. Considering how quickly the service was, it was a delight to see that their food didn’t have that typical “fast food” quality to it and that the flavors weren’t hidden behind grease.
Oliveo Grill is an enjoyable discovery for anyone looking for Mediterranean flavors without the hassle of a more formal restaurant, especially if you want to enjoy your meal in a comfortable atmosphere or even at home.