Over in Mission Hills, Olivetto Café & Wine Bar’s Italian menu and ambitious wine list draw a high-energy dinner crowd whose conversations fill the room and spill out into the night. It’s fun, but we’d rather relax over a mellow lunch, when the saffron-toned walls reflect the sun and the menu offers tempting dishes for under $10. Perfect for discussing business——or pleasure, particularly if you partake in a glass of vino or two.
You can find panini anywhere these days, even at Jack in the Box, but Olivetto’s versions are worth a trip across town. Served on Bread & Cie’s divine ciabatta and paired with balsamic-dressed greens or plump, pleasing fries, these sandwiches are impressively stacked.
Stacked high, that is. The veggie version ($7.95) is a small mountain of roasted yellow squash, eggplant, zucchini and tomato, with layers of melting fontina cheese and bold shallot aioli; two light eaters could easily share it. Same for the succulent roast chicken with slabs of red pepper and pesto ($8.50) and the grilled eggplant complemented with arugula ($7.95). At press time, additional varieties were being added to the lineup.
Other highlights on the menu are the simple panzanella salad that marries arugula with roasted peppers and Parmesan ($6.95) and moist, meaty crab cakes ($10.50). Skip the drab linguine tutto mare ($15.50) in favor of a creamy, dreamy, wild-mushroom pasta con pollo ($11.95) or the café’s popular Olivetto burger on a sesame brioche bun ($8.95).
Finding a decent glass of wine for under 10 bucks can be a challenge these days, but both the Falanghina white ($8.50) or Banfi’s Cabernet/Sangiovese blend ($7.50) fill the bill nicely.
Olivetto Café & Wine Bar serves lunch and dinner daily, with breakfast and brunch added Friday through Sunday, at 860 West Washington Street, Mission Hills; 619-220-8222.