I read, with interest, the thread regarding "red sauce" Italian places. Several Italian-American friends, years ago, told me that there was a difference between "red-checkered tablecloth" and "white tablecloth" places. I got the feeling that the "red sauce" places being referred to were pretty much the same as the "red-checkered table cloth" places. These are places that have all the "standards" - chicken/veal parm, (do you want linguine or ziti?), cacciatore, even non-red stuff like primavera or marsala... Not that these aren't served in white tablecloth places, but that there is always a much greater selection of alternatives and specialties. The service and price is a delineator, as well - usually the white tablecloth places have a good selection of wine.
So much for labeling and pigeon-holing.
The Black Olive calls itself a Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant, but it's a thinly disguised red tablecloth Italian place with Baba Ganouj and Hummus on the appetizer list. Tewksbury has so many red tablecloth places already (Bacci's, Cappelini's) that it's hard to imagine another one doing well. Maybe that's why they put Hummus on the menu.
The food is good. It is what it is, and it's done very well for what it is. It's just what it is. My son had a Veal parm - he asked for it to be made a little spicy - "fra Diavalo" - and the chef complied. I had the prime rib special and it was a decent piece of rib - most likely from a select cow, but for the rib, that's ok. The ceasar's dressing was probably bottled, and the croutons were certainly from a package.
The service was ok - slow, but it was obvious that the three waitresses were very busy - they were doing all their own bar work and bussing as well. I left a good tip.
Prices are what they should be - 5-6 for apps, 12-18 for entrees.
This is the same spot as the Cantina Napolitana and it's a significant downgrade from that experience. It's not bad, it's just not great - I just don't see someone looking at Tewksbury saying, gee we need another average red tablecloth (red sauce) place here.
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