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Review of Olivea in Kingston, Ontario

Simon Lam loves to eat. Although he isn't a trained chef, he sure knows what good food tastes like.

Olivea features large windows that let in all the bright and cheerful sunlight.

Olivea features large windows that let in all the bright and cheerful sunlight.

Good Quality Food

Olivea is a family-run Italian restaurant in Kingston, Ontario, that opened in 2008. They have become a popular spot for pasta and gnocchi. Their space is well lit with large windows encasing almost the entire restaurant. Inside, warm colours and wooden pieces create a very welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.

We visited this restaurant in mid-November. My friends ordered the tuna special and pasta. I got the Olivea burger that comes with Wilton cheddar, bacon and tomato chutney. I decided to get the green salad with my burger. I thought the salad was super fresh and very appetizing, although it could have used a bit more dressing. The burger was also very tasty. I wished it came with more vegetables, like fresh tomatoes and lettuce. My friends seemed to enjoy their meals, as well. One of my friends did say the portion was a bit small. To fill her up, she ordered cannolis. She said that they were delightful.

The non-food aspect of the restaurant was quite good, as well. The service was excellent. Our waitress was helpful, accommodating, warm, and efficient. I was very pleased with their washrooms. They were attractive, clean and well-stocked.

Overall, I was happy with Olivea. I would recommend it for great Italian cuisine.

A Bit of History

Owners Stev George and Deanna Harrington opened Olivea in 2008, and Stev George is also the head chef. Together with their staff, they have created a popular Italian restaurant on prime real estate across from the Market Square. They are well known for their pastas and gnocchi, which are made in-house.


Olivea has a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. The restaurant is almost completely enveloped in large windows, letting in all the bright and cheerful sunlight. The interior has warm hues of tan and light orange-brown. There is exposed brickwork on the far wall opposite the entrance. Spotlights and decorative pendant lights offer additional lighting. Tasteful photographs and artwork provide interest on the walls. Different artefacts including a buddha decorate the space. The buddha feels kind of out of the place in the Italian establishment.

A full bar with space for diners to sit and eat is situated in the centre of the restaurant. All the tables are found around its perimeter. Brown wooden chairs and tables and booth seating are where diners can relax and enjoy their meals.

We were served bread with olive oil and vinegar while waiting for our food.

We were served bread with olive oil and vinegar while waiting for our food.

The Food

We visited Olivea in mid-November for lunch. They have a modest menu offering antipasti (appetizers), salads, sandwiches, pastas, and secondi. One of my friends had the tuna special, while the others had pasta. As usual, I ordered a burger, the Olivea Burger to be exact. It has Enright (the name of a local cattle farm) beef, Wilton cheddar, bacon, and tomato chutney. It comes with a side of soup, frites or insalata verde (green salad). I picked the green salad. The burger was $17, which is comparable to other establishments.

While we waited for our food, we were served bread with olive oil and vinegar. The bread was so delightful. It was soft, light and had a touch of salt.

Olivea Burger

I was really impressed with the presentation of the burger. It looked appealing and tasteful. I was super pleased with the salad. It looked very fresh and appetizing. I've been disappointed before at other restaurants, but Olivea had the best-looking salad. It had endives, radicchio, red and green lettuce, and arugula. My only criticism is that not enough of the vinaigrette was used on the salad.

The burger looked mouthwatering. The beef was nice, juicy and full of flavour. I liked the bacon too. The tomato chutney added an interesting tangy taste to the burger. I thought the burger could have been better with actual tomatoes and lettuce. However, I really enjoyed the burger.


My friend said that her pasta was quite delicious—very rich and creamy. Her only complaint was that the portion size was a tad too small.

My friend enjoyed a cannoli for dessert.

My friend enjoyed a cannoli for dessert.


Because the pasta that my friend had didn't fill her up, she ordered dessert. She got cannoli. They served two of them per plate. She was really happy with the cannoli. She raved that they tasted heavenly.

The Service

We were served by one waitress. She was very amicable, warm and bubbly. We didn't have to wait very long for our food. Overall, the service was wonderful and efficient.

I was pleased with the washrooms at Olivea.

I was pleased with the washrooms at Olivea.

The Washrooms

The state of a restaurant's washroom is an indication of the cleanliness and upkeep of the whole establishment. I visited the men's room at Olivea, which was in the basement. The washrooms have a very neutral tone, with black, grey, and brown colours. There was also exposed stonework in there. It looked quite clean, and well-stocked. I was pleased with their washrooms.

Inspection Results

The local Public Health Unit does a regular inspection of food facilities in Kingston and posts their results online. Their most recent inspection (at the time of this writing) was on May 29, 2018. They had one non-critical violation that appears to be a repeat. They failed to sanitize dishes in the final rinse. I hope they will be more careful in the future.