Olio e Limone Restaurant - Santa Barbara, California: In a city where there is a fair share of good Italian restaurants, Olio e Limone is certainly among the local favorites. Owned by a husband-wife team, the restaurant presents a light and friendly ambiance, great for fun family dining, Italian-style - lively and somewhat boisterous.
This is no place for an intimate dinner or a first date. The tables are positioned closely together making the place look absolutely packed. Some spare tables are also visibly stacked on top of each other, as if more tables were needed for an already congested room. This is an indication that they are always expecting a full house. The interior of the restaurant is simple and conventional with walls of sage and ivory and glass and dark wood furnishings.
Olio e Limone serves mainly Sicilian dishes, their menu consisting of both authentic Italian and creative innovations bordering to the unusual such as their ribbon pasta with sausage and quail in duck ravioli and mushroom ragout with Sicilian ratatouille.
For starters, I had the shrimp wrapped with prosciutto, papaya, arugula and Belgian endive salad with Olio e Limone dressing. The arugula was crisp and the papaya and shrimp were fresh. The sweetness of the fruit and shrimp in contrast to the saltiness of the prosciutto gave it an exciting and full flavor; it refreshed my palate for the next course: mussels and clams in a spicy tomato broth. Another invigorating dish, the spicy tomato broth awakened my senses while the clams and mussels were enjoyably luscious and succulent.
One of their popular dishes, the veal chop, was so simple yet naturally juicy and flavorful. Besides the great food, Olio e Limone also has a great Californian wine selection. I have to say that I enjoyed their food a lot but I did not have the most pleasant experience at Olio e Limone, making me not so enthusiastic about recommending this restaurant.
The place is so busy and the waiters have no finesses or art in serving. They simply plop your food right on front of you and leave. Our waiter had no personality. He did the bare minimum of his job but did not make us feel welcome, not caring if we enjoyed our visit or not. Great food alone doesn't make a great restaurant. Because of their lousy service, I rate the Olio e Limone between bombastic and not.