For a city that has almost everything and anything you can imagine, I still find myself searching for, what I think to be, some of the most basic necessities a bustling metropolis should have.Olio e Piú, an Italian West Village staple since 2009, has checked two of these “basic necessities” off my box.
Located on Greenwich Avenue nestled between 6th Avenue and Christopher Street, it’s quite easy to miss this hotspot. I’ve actually walked passed it many times as my eyebrow threaders are on the next street, mistaking it for a florist due to beautiful horticulture outside – but upon entry it’s a different world. It’s like being on the streets of Milan people watching as you enjoy dinner with friends. Except rather than drinking vintage reds (you could if you wanted to) you’re sipping concoctions created by New York’s most sought after mixologists fromEmployee’s Only.
And the menu? Well you can thank head chef Dominic and his team for formulating a cuisine pairing that’s unique, homey, and well curated. None of that hodgepodge of randomness that leaves you feeling nauseous at the end. It’s an eclectic mix of works that match well, and can be altered to your dietary restrictions excluding the pizzas. Yeah, that’s right! The pizzas are untouchable. Do not try switching out one for the other, or doing half and half. These masterpieces were tried and tried until the perfect balance was found. So your alterations are just insults. And if you so badly want to change something, there’s a make your own pizza option on the menu for you to be as creative or as bland, as you see fit. The open kitchen and wood-burning oven allows one to feel like they too are part of the cooking process whether it be 2AM or 2PM.
Oh, did I not mention? They are open 24/7. How cool… I know?! That’s actually my second basic necessity. Which isn’t really basic, nor a necessity. It just seems odd for “the city that never sleeps” to have so many institutions that are constantly sleeping. Anyway, Olio e Piú is one of the rare, non-dives that feed your 3AM appetite of tiramisu and bruschetta after clubbing all night or researching for a hearing, with the same talent provided during peak hours.
Owned by Emil Stefkov, Olio e Piú offers that authentic Italian ambiance and cuisine that many other places don’t. And many places aren’t as authentic as you think. Years ago, when I Au Paired in Milan, the host parents took me out for dinner. It was my first dinner outing with them and I spoke no Italian, only French. They told me either choose from the menu, or tell them my favorite. I said, “Fettucini Alfredo.” I won’t continue, but so we all know, any place that claims authentic and serves Fettucini Alfredo, is far from it. With dishes like Polipetti alla griglia (chargrilled baby octopus) or Polenta alla Bolognese (beef, veal, and pork ragu over Parmesan polenta and olive oil), it was easy to differentiate inherited family recipes from marketing buzzwords.