By SUSAN ERICSON
The phone is buzzing, a waitress is taking orders, and the door opens and closes more times than we can count while we wait for our lunch at Olivia’s Trattoria.
A tiny gem of a restaurant tucked into the corner of the A&P shopping center on Prospect Avenue, it’s the best kept secret in Little Silver, a customer tells us, while another eating an enormous sub asks us not to write about it.
Sorry folks, PieHole is spilling the beans. Owners Giovanni and Dawn Sommers have a good thing going here.
What’s so good about it? The food. Eat in or take it home, the classic Italian offerings are consistently well-prepared, and the portions are more than adequate.
Working on the assumption that there wouldn’t be an available table, we ordered a Prima calzone to go. As luck would have it, there was a table available and we ate in instead.
High, vintage tin ceilings and golden-orange decor give this little trattoria an old world feel. The view through to the kitchen keeps the atmosphere lively.
The calzone ($9.25), is a behemoth serving. More than 14 inches long it’s stuffed with prosciutto, fresh spinach, eggplant and ricotta cheese, all sealed in a thin blanket of pizza dough. The dough was crispy on the ends and softer in the center, oozing with appetizing textures and a multitude of flavors. Added to the salty, creamy and savory mix was a pleasantly simple marinara sauce.
The menu at Olivia’s is extensive. Daily lunch specials are offered, and most are under $10. But it’s the pasta and dinner specials that have kept us coming back for years. Everything is fresh and made in-house.
“The usual, boss?” Giovanni Sommers calls out to a customer coming through the door, and with a nod, the order is in.
Richie Mattia, one of several people working behind the counter, tells us that the chef and owners “work with more passion than anyone I have ever known.”
Unable to get through more than half the calzone, we had it wrapped up, and later found an extra container of marinara tucked into the bag. Yup, the owners know their customers well.
Olivia’s Trattoria is a BYOB and is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.