The middle of winter is the ideal time to open a restaurant that aims to transport its customers to the sunny Mediterranean.
At least that’s what White Olive is hoping. The new restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, from the brothers Michael Karim Sopariwalla and Amin Himani, is serving up Greek and Turkish fare inspired by the pair’s travels in the region. Behind the cooktop, bringing that vibe to New York City, is Hasan Karci, who’s worked at the Ritz-Carltons in both Istanbul and Palm Beach.
Ensconced in a light-filled dining room, with Turkish volcanic stone on the walls and Turkish runners on the tables, you’ll dig in to Mediterranean classics like hummus, tzatziki and calamari. Drawing from the Greek side of the restaurant’s repertoire are dishes like shrimp saganaki and lavraki, a delicate branzino fillet served with mixed greens. Meanwhile, the Turkish influence is found in bites such as paçanga pastry (pastrami with cheese, tomato, parsley and pepper) and two ezme dips.
Most of the menu’s focus is on mezze and small plates, but larger dishes run the gamut from trenette pasta with portobello mushrooms and truffle oil to a “surf n turf” plate with filet mignon and jumbo shrimp. Standby Mediterranean dishes like baby lamb chops with lemon potatoes are also on offer. And save room for dessert, particularly the baklava ice cream sandwich or the shredded phyllo knafeh.
While White Olive plans to serve alcohol in the future, it’s still awaiting its liquor license. So for now you have your choice of n/a cocktails, including the Coconut Crush (fresh crushed coconut, pineapple juice, grenadine, simple syrup) and Mango Lychee Sangria (fresh crushed lychees, lime juice, mango juice, club soda, mint). Eventually, the wine list will spotlight some Greek and Turkish wines alongside high-end bottles from the likes of Solaia and Château Lafite Rothschild, all curated by the general manager, Baba Yosef.
If you can only dream of a Mediterranean getaway at this point, White Olive is a pretty good proxy—and forgoes any chances of an airline stranding you. Leaning back in one of the restaurant’s creamy leather chairs, with a fruity drink in hand and fresh fish and veggies in front of you, you definitely won’t feel like you’re in the middle of the concrete jungle.
White Olive is currently open seven days a week, from 5 to 11 pm. It will soon expand to lunch, starting at 11:30 am.