Just six months after Ibiza Restaurant closed, a new restaurant featuring Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine opened its doors at 39 High St.
Olea, the new restaurant occupying the space next to the Little Salad Shop, held its grand opening last night. Although the space is under new ownership, the restaurant will have a familiar face at the helm — Manuel Romero, former executive chef for Ibiza, will be the chef at the new fusion restaurant in addition to assuming partial ownership. After serving authentic Spanish food in New Haven for over a decade, Ibiza closed this past March due to a dispute between the landlord and restaurant owners Sonia and Ignacio Blanco, the New Haven Independent reported in March.
The restaurant will have a “soft opening,” according to Andrea Romero, the chef’s wife, who also works at the restaurant. For the first week or so, Olea will only be open for dinner, though the restaurant will eventually also offer lunch meals.
“We want to start well and we are taking it slow,” Romero said on the night of the restaurant’s opening. “So far, the customers seem to be happy.”
Romero said he intends to incorporate ingredients from all over the world into his dishes. Indeed, the owners chose the restaurant’s name to encapsulate this style of cooking. The title refers to an olive tree popular in three different regions — the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and North Africa.
“We’re really trying to break away from traditional dishes,” Romero said. “This is going to be a totally new adventure from Ibiza.”
Romero cited a few of the dishes featured — including Tuna Tartare, Moroccan Chicken Tagine and beet salad with goat cheese croquette — as examples of the restaurant’s eclectic menu.
Romero said he is confident the new spot will appeal to Yalies and other college students in the area because, little by little, more young people are becoming more interested in going out to eat.
Despite the fact that there are two other Spanish-focused restaurants a few blocks from Olea, Romero said he is not worried about potential competition, adding that he is not interested in how much nearby restaurants are charging or what ingredients they are using.
Thomas Aviles ’16, who has eaten at Ibiza a few times, said he enjoyed the ambiance, calling it a nice place to go to have a more formal meal for dates or other occasions.
“Obviously, that type of price range isn’t something that our particular demographic is going to pursue that frequently, but Ibiza was a nice option for when the goal was to be formal,” Aviles said.
During the opening period, Olea will be open between 5:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on weekdays, and extend their hours until 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.