Credit a fourth-grader with the transformation of five-year-old, north-of-Wash-Park Café Marmotte into a ristorante.
The trio that opened Bistro Georgette, acclaimed for its Croque Madame and other French classics, apparently was so bewitched by Italy-loving Olivia Hartley, they turned their newly acquired French spot into a pasta destination and named it after the youngster.
Judging from the Wednesday night we visited, Restaurant Olivia already has bewitched a neighborhood that had taken to French cuisine. The magic spell consists of seven starters, eight pastas, and three entrees.
Appetizers reach far beyond the standard “soups and salads,” and should not be skipped. The French Onion Arancini ($16), Olivia’s nod to Marmotte, is less a soup than a delectable French onion sauce accompanying fried balls of rice. The Risotto Cacio E Pepe ($18) melts in your mouth and is meant to be shared, and the Seared Foie Gras ($24) exemplifies chef Ty Leon’s creativity—and the baking of Olivia’s mother, hospitality director Heather Morrison—by presenting a tiny loaf of Heather’s banana bread with bacon and madeira jus alongside foie gras and madeira gelato.
It’s a show stopper, but don’t stop. Four of the pastas are said to be appetizer size, but light eaters will find the toasted Gnocchi ($22) sufficient and the Cappelletti ($24) ample, the latter with braised rabbit and wild mushrooms in a brown sauce. Entrée-size Lobster Spaghetti ($38) is a winning carryover from the team’s Marmotte menu, flavored with black truffle, mascarpone and a hint of lemon. And what might have been coq au vin in its French form has become the hit of the menu, Chicken Marsala ($38), served with cheesy mashed potatoes, pickled shallots, and the only green we spotted on the elegantly white premises, kale.
The simplicity, creativity, and elegance of Olivia’s menu carries over to its beverage program. Partner Austin Carson oversees the lists, where negronis and their “relatives” star and sparkling wines cover a full page because, our server tells us, “Sparkling wine is food friendly and it’s fun!” Austin is the team’s mad scientist: Look in the small print of the dessert list for exquisite concoctions like Salted Caramel Sherry, House Lemoncello, and Brown Butter Madeira.
The latter is paired with Bombelonni ($15), little donuts filled with brown butter pastry cream and brown butter sugar. “Oh, we can’t have that,” we agreed. Now we’ve had it and we can never not have it. We suspect Olivia was in on that too.
290 S. Downing St.
Pizzeria Locale takes its pizza seriously, and no wonder: A perfect pie emerges from its custom oven every 30 seconds.
At its airy, new, quick-serve Stapleton location, Pizzeria Locale appeals to families and businesses with 14 pizza combinations and the option to customize. The brand’s success hails from the crust recipe developed by culinary director Jordan Wallace when he spent six months studying pizza in Naples, Italy: flour, water, yeast, and salt, fermented overnight and then hand-stretched to order and baked for three minutes on a rotating, 10-pizza tray.
Topped with quality ingredients, there’s not a bad option. Our party tried the Prosciutto & Arugula ($8.50), Diavola ($8), and Mais (one of five white pizzas, with mozzarella, crème fraiche, ham, corn, and garlic oil, $8.50); each eater chose a different favorite but liked all three.
There are local beverages in the case alongside grab-and-go salads and taps dispense Pretzel Assassin Amber Lager, Frico Bianco and Frico Rosso wines, and the seasonal spritz (vodka with ginger beer, blood orange juice, and basil the day we visited). For a special treat, try the housemade prosciutto, which comes sliced paper-thin on a machine from Italy.
We’d save 220 calories for one of the tiny, $1.80 servings of budino (butterscotch pudding), or spring for the Nutella pizza ($3) for an unconventional dessert. Hey, didn’t we tell you, it’s all about the pizza at Pizzeria Locale?
7505 E. 29th. Place