Olea has been mired in a game of musical chefs in 2007, but with Canuck transplant Aaron Barnett at the wheel, this cavernous, Mediterranean-influenced eatery at the outer edge of the Pearl District seems to have found its stride. Olea finds inspiration to invent on every shore of the Great Sea, whether it’s through rustic wood-fired pizza topped with fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes, seared halibut atop a bed of Israeli couscous that’s nicely specked with roasted tomatoes and sweet corn, or the Moroccan chicken with green beans, puréed pistachios and sultana grapes. Salads—like baby arugula with prosciutto and grilled peaches, or heirloom tomatoes with fresh feta, cucumber and mint—keep pace with the changing seasons. Olea’s plump mussels in a brine of romesco and lamb sausage are perfect for dunking the spears of accompanying grilled bread. Olea’s quiet stretch of sidewalk tables offers a nice vantage point to pass a lazy summer evening. (MT)
Signature Dish: The rustic, seasonally adorned flatbread pizzas are great.
Standouts: Truly excellent mac ’n’ cheese with Emmenthaler, aged cheddar, Rogue blue and smoked bacon.
Regrets: It’s a long walk to the restrooms.