Olive and Ivy – Scottsdale, AZ

Olive and Ivy is a beautifully decorated restaurant well placed near the Scottsdale, AZ waterfront.  While sitting in the outdoor patio area on the cool, calm night of my visit I felt as though I was at a New England summer picnic rather than at a restaurant embedded within a large Scottsdale, AZ shopping center.  Olive and Ivy’s outside patio is divided into two main areas – one for drinks only and one for dining.  The patio drink area has a classy, New England summer party feel decorated pleasantly with sofas and chairs that are covered with various striped cushions.  The outside dining area has an upscale, breezy feel and upon being seating, one immediately feels comfortable, calm and at home.  Adding to the overall ambiance are beautiful small lights that are strung across the full outdoor area.  Once the sun sets, these lights, coupled with the background of the canal create an unbelievably romantic, intimate ambiance.

Not only can Olive and Ivy boast about an incredible atmosphere, but their food is also impressive.  Numerous items on the menu are indicated as gluten-free and the wait staff is knowledgeable regarding gluten-free dining.  The staff can confidently and thoroughly speak with customers about the menu and address any concerns.  

I began my meal at Olive and Ivy with the bacon wrapped dates (pictured) which was a fantastic decision.  These dates, stuffed with Italian sausage, wrapped in bacon and served with piquillo peppers, provided an unforgettable mix of sweet, salty and spicy flavors.  The texture was soft with an ever so slight crunchy “crust” as a result of the bacon wrap.  To date, these bacon wrapped dates have been one of the best gluten-free appetizers that I have ever tasted.  

While many might argue that ordering two dishes with bacon in one meal is a little aggressive, after my delicious meal, I would strongly disagree.  I was extremely pleased with my entrée choice of bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, served with spaghetti squash and tomato agrodolce (pictured).  In my dining experiences I have found that pork is a challenging meat for chefs to cook well.  It is difficult to find the perfect timing where the pork is fully cooked, yet still juicy and flavorful versus dry and tough.  I wanted to test Olive and Ivy, but with the moist, juicy and flavorful pork they served me, it seems that they were not even fazed by my exam.  The addition of bacon to the dish added a subtle background flavor that was appealing, but in my opinion not necessary.

The spaghetti squash worked well with the entree because as opposed to potatoes, a typical choice with pork, the squash was light and airy.  It went so well with the meal that it was easy to forget it was there.  I enjoyed the lightness in weight and flavor because this really was a dish about the meat. Additionally, the dish was topped with several vert herts (green beans) which added an amazing crunchy texture to a meal that otherwise consisted of soft, moist items.  The beans were cooked perfectly having a nice bright green color and solid crunch. 

Olive and Ivy also had several gluten-free desserts on their menu.  As is normal with many restaurants that provide gluten-free meals, Olive and Ivy provided an ice-cream/sorbet gluten-free dessert.  But, generally these types of desserts, although they can be extremely tasty, creative and well done, are not that interesting to individuals with gluten-sensitivities.  Instead, what sets one restaurant apart from another is if the restaurant can offer creative, innovative and of course, delicious gluten-free desserts.  As it turns out, each evening Olive and Ivy prepares one special gluten-free dessert for their customers.  The evening I was there they were offering a homemade shortbread cookie, with crème fraiche and strawberry coulis.  I would have loved to try this dessert but unfortunately, due to some issues explained below, I had to pass on this course.

At the suggestion of the waiter, my husband and I ordered a ½ pitcher of red sangria.  This, as it turns out, was not a good idea.  The sangria was on the sweeter side, which I prefer, however it was thick, filling and fruitless instead of light, airy and fresh.  After only one glass of this heavy sangria I was so full that I was unable to eat dessert.

Despite the weighty sangria, I was still impressed with Olive and Ivy.  The ambiance, especially at night, is magical. The food staff is knowledgeable and friendly and the food is interesting, innovative and flavorful.  Order the sangria at your own risk, but do visit Olive and Ivy for an upscale gluten-free meal if you are in Scottsdale, AZ.  Rating: 4 Stars, nonGFbuddy thumbs up

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