An old wood-fired oven on Temple Street, which fell into disuse after Tavern New Haven closed last year, has been revived and currently serves up artisanal pizza for a new establishment.
Olives and Oil, an Italian restaurant at 124 Temple St., opened in late December, selling pizza and house-made pasta supplemented by an array of wines and craft cocktails. During lunch, the eatery serves paninis and salads, as well as items on the dinner menu. The new eatery serves up a linguini made from black squid ink for $19, sweet sausage pizza for $17 and an oven-roasted rabbit platter for $58.
Fork Hospitality, the restaurant consultant and development company that owns Olives and Oil, also operates Elm City Social on College Street.
The success of that first opening gave owner John Brennan, along with his partners Matt Bailey and Erick Williams, the motivation to open another store.
“We looked around New Haven and saw great Italian culture with all the pizzerias,” Brennan said. “We wanted to take what we thought our brand was and place it in a fun atmosphere.”
The restaurant mix in downtown New Haven already includes the establishments Basta Trattoria and Tarry Lodge, as well as the Wooster Square pizzerias Sally’s Apizza and Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana.
For drinks, Olives and Oil boasts eight selections of red and white wines ranging from $8 to $12 per glass. And similarly to Elm City Social, the new restaurant also sells craft cocktails, like the vodka-based Olive It Dirty, for between $10 and $13.
So far, the restaurant has been well-received by customers, Yale students and residents alike.
Last week, Anna Thorndike ’20 attended the fraternity Leo’s party at Olives and Oil with a group of her friends. The pizzas were “phenomenal” and one of the highlights of the event, Thorndike said. She added that she would recommend the food, beverages and ambiance to anyone interested in the restaurant.
According to Williams, the restaurant has recorded more than 100 reservations in preparation for Saturday evenings. Olives and Oil also has a 3.9 rating out of 5.0 on Yelp from 28 reviewers. The locale’s previous tenant, Tavern, received a 2.9 on the site.
Hamden resident Heather Day, who was eating at the restaurant Sunday afternoon and finished her meal with red velvet biscotti and cheese, said Olives and Oil’s menu was much better than Tavern’s.
“It’s a relatively small menu, but it seems to have been done well,” her husband Chris Day said.
He added that the restaurant is difficult to characterize, as the pizza shares some similarities with other New Haven pies, but has a chewier crust and more artisan toppings.
Brennan, the executive chef at Olives and Oil who is also half Italian, played a primary role in crafting the menu and ambiance.
“The very basics of Italian culture include Italian cuisine,” he said.
The Black Bear Saloon occupied Olives and Oil’s location before Tavern.