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Doug ate the stuffed eggplant.
JM ate the lamb kabob.
John F. ate the lasagna and a couple beers.
John Sams ate the shrimp and artichoke dish.
Nichole ate the shepherd salad.
Ross ate the manicotti with a beer.
Samantha ate the felafel's with soup.
We split the baklava, rice pudding, and tiramisu.
The bill was $130, or $18.67/person, plus tip.
JM and Doug gave Oliva an A-; John Sams, Nichole, and Samantha gave Oliva a B+ (see our grading rubric).
Oliva occupies the spot where Grape and Company used to be, and it seems to cater to the slightly upscale Mediterranean food loving public. With Asia Express and Swagat just down the strip mall, this corner of the west side is a bit of a gem.
Dinner for our large group started with baskets of pita (not the flatbread variety, this kind fluffy and toasty outside). It was accompanied by a great housemade garlic and olive tapenade. A decent selection of beers and wine, as well as traditional tea, were available.
Many of us opted for the lentil soup as a starter. Heavily spiced with cumin, and a dollop of spearmint oil on top, the soup had a thick, rich texture. The house salad dressing had a great lemony bite to it.
The biggest hit of the table was probably JM's lamb kabob. The tenderness of the meat really made an impression on JM, as did the sweet and creamy yogurt and fresh grilled vegetables. John's shrimp and artichokes in cream sauce was also memorable and used good ingredients.
Samantha's felafel's was excellent, though she appreciates a less homogeneous texture than this one had. Of the Italian-style dishes, Ross's manicotti was standard but used good cheese; likewise the lasagna John F. ordered was stuffed with cheese and melted in the mouth. Doug's stuffed eggplant didn't manage to overcome the vegetable's inherent blandness, but the sauce was still delicious.
The shepherd's salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese was cool and fresh, but suffered from a veritable lake of water at the bottom. The tomatoes were not quite ripe, but the dry feta was tangy and there was plenty of it, and having pitted olives made chewing easier.
Oliva's decor reminds one most of a high school cafeteria, but don't let that fool you. Oliva offers things ranging from decent to downright tasty and a very reasonable price.