As we pulled into the long driveway of The Twisted Olive, we stopped to let an idyllic family of deer cross the road.
It was a good omen. The restaurant, in the former Belden family lodge tucked inside Green’s Southgate Park, was the perfect weeknight escape.
We arrived just after its celebrated 2 to 6 p.m. happy hour (we’ll definitely be back to take advantage) and without reservations. Faced with an estimated 90-minute wait, we took the hostess’ suggestion and headed down to The Pub on the lodge’s lower level to grab drinks.
We settled into a cozy spot near the bar and honestly, I could have spent the entire meal there. The Pub—a more casual setting that offers seating on a first-come, first-served basis—is beautiful with dark wood, low lighting and splashes of green. The room did get loud, but we were still able to carry on a conversation.
The Pub serves the full menu alongside a full bar and a list of creative cocktails. Dave grabbed a Walnut Old Fashioned ($11), a great twist on a classic drink, and I opted for a glass of Gervasi Vineyard Romanza, a sweet rosé. The Twisted Olive is owned and operated by Gervasi, and both ventures are owned by the Swaldo family.
We also ordered appetizers. The starter of meatballs ($9 for three naked meatballs or two sliders) was tasty, but a bit steep for the size. We opted for classic beef served with marinara and mozzarella, and while the meatballs were cooked and seasoned well, the sauce was ho-hum. The menu also offers Greek chicken (with feta and cream sauce) and spicy vegetarian (with eggplant, marinara and mozzarella) meatballs.
The crispy Brussels sprouts ($9) alone are worth a return trip. I’m a big fan of roasted Brussels sprouts and because I’ve yet to perfect them at home, I order them nearly every time they appear on a menu. These were, hands down, the best I’ve tried. They were expertly cooked and tossed with smoky, crispy bacon, a sweet and salty truffle honey and a dusting of Parmesan. I could have eaten the entire bowl. Thankfully Dave, who normally hates sprouts, had no problem digging in with me.
Serendipitously, as soon as we’d finished our appetizers, our table was ready upstairs.
I’d wanted to sit on The Twisted Olive’s large patio but the rainy weather had other plans. We were seated in a table in front of large windows, so we still got to enjoy the excellent view.
The menu is an eclectic mix of Italian classics with a twist, including pizza and pasta, and more Americanized offerings such as burgers, sandwiches and salads. I had a hard time narrowing down my choices.
I ultimately settled on the Parmesan breaded chicken breast ($19), which came topped with eggplant, tomato and pickled red onions, smothered in provolone cheese and drizzled with balsamic marinade. It was served with a potato and leek mash, a delicious twist on traditional mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables (in this case, lightly charred green beans).
The chicken was crispy and juicy, and I loved how it paired with the veggies and balsamic. I just wish it had a little more seasoning, as bites that didn’t incorporate the toppings were bland.
I also ordered a small apple and dried fig salad ($6 small, $11 large). The generous pile of mesclun greens was tossed with sweet candied pistachios, creamy Boursin cheese, figs and balsamic vinaigrette. I loved the components of the salad—the figs and cheese pair particularly well, but the ratio of toppings to greens was way off, and I left a pile of dry greens uneaten.
Dave ordered the crab and shrimp ravioli ($28), a visually impressive dish that made me instantly jealous. I took more than a few bites. The ravioli was paired with mild, flavorful cream sauce, roasted peppers and zucchini, and the entire dish was topped with gorgeous jumbo shrimp and scallops. Everything was perfectly cooked and seasoned. It was well worth the higher price tag.
I’m eager to try to the rest of the menu, and I think we’ll definitely make a return visit. It’s a beautiful spot for a celebratory night out or romantic meal. Just watch out for the wildlife.