Olive BISTRO, not Olive Garden | Buzz Blog
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Olive BISTRO, not Olive Garden

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Although it's located just around the corner from City Weekly world headquarters, it took me too long to get my ass over to The Olive Bistro, just west of the Hotel Monaco and The Red Door on 200 South, and not to be confused with The Olive Garden, which is also just down the street.

The Olive Bistro is a terrific little eatery specializing in panini sandwiches and salads, with lots of elbow room between tables, chic art on the walls and an awesome music mix (everything from Afropop to trance) courtesy of the owner's son, who is a DJ in Paris.

The owner -- who introduces himself with a big smile and an enthusiastic handshake as Salami -- is one of the nicest restaurateurs I've ever encountered. He hails originally from Casablanca and Paris (he has family in both places) and when I tell him of my memories of Morocco he (again) shakes my hand. Many more handshakes will pepper my visits to The Olive Bistro (and he doesn't even know I'm a restaurant critic).

On my first visit, I had a delicious roasted turkey and pepperjack cheese panini, adorned with ultra-thin, mandolin-sliced cucumber discs, tomato, red and green bell pepper and mixed salad greens. A salmon panini was also outstanding and colleagues raved about the salami panini but were less enthusiastic about the herb-roasted chicken. Olive Bistro paninis are mostly priced from $7.95-$8.95 and there are a dozen varieties to choose from. They come with blue corn tortilla chips, salsa, and a small side salad.

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At lunch yesterday I took the "carpaccio shrimp antipasti" for a spin. It was delicious, although I'm not quite sure what was "carpaccio" about it. It was essentially a shrimp salad with chilled, shelled shrimp on a bed of greens and toasted crostini, topped liberally with chunks of feta, capers, olives and fresh basil leaves.

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Bonus: The Olive Bistro has a nice selection of wine and imported beers, not to mention sidewalk seating to enjoy them. 57 W. 200 South, 801-364-1401.