The windows overlooking Piazzale Lavater and a cuisine that takes you more than 800 km to the south. Olio is a restaurant that, playing with flavors, breaks down all rational walls, making you believe that it is really possible to be in two places at once. So, while Porta Venezia district reminds you that you are in Milan, on the other hand, the courses drive you across Salento, Valle d’Itria, Bari and Gargano Promontory.
Opened just over a year ago, the place is the result of passion for cooking of two young Apulian guys, who have decided to celebrate their homeland bringing its stories and traditions to the metropolis. The restaurant sign says “Fresh Cuisine”, which is both a promise and a challenge: to satisfy everyone, using the lively experimentation mixed to essentiality as the core value, and to look at the future, keeping the roots in the regional past.
Walking inside, the feeling you get is that nothing is left to chance. The space, youthful and divided into different areas (central hall, mezzanine and outdoor space) is pleasantly lit, riddled with plants, olive trees and bonsai for a touch of color inside the rooms. But the tables are the real strength: “bare and crude”, in order to bring out the majolica decorations, that immediately remind you of Laterza and Grottaglie, – if you know them. Here, elegance comes together with a sober design in a lovely dance, with no special demands: the result is that you feel at home. Thus, the perfect place to eat with friends.
Passing from words to deeds. The menu (with medium-high prices) is often updated: it is continuously revisited according to the raw materials seasonality and availability – Apulian, of course. But there is a leitmotiv: the oil – strictly Extra-virgin olive oil from Frantoio Muraglia – is the real peculiarity of the menu, as the restaurant name suggests. This ingredient binds appetizers, starters, main courses and desserts, and all customers can take it away in characteristic 50 ml bottles. The food flavors are strong, in pure regional style, and do not hide an ambitious creativity.
So, from the simple taralli (typical crisp snack), served as a welcome, you can move on to other dishes: a crescendo of sophistication, looking for the perfect combination. For a seafood triumph, taste Gallipoli purple shrimps carpaccio sprinkled with Toritto almonds, Acquaviva red onion and liquorice, or the amberjack tartar; otherwise, if you prefer to taste some Bari specialty, choose homemade orecchiette with turnip tops. Spaghetti with sea urchin combined with wild chicory is remarkable as well. The main courses range from meat to fish, while, among the most curious desserts, there are cheeses with jams.
In short, a place worth visiting (book a table!). However, you should forget about Milan’s haste and rhythms. Time slows down in the south.