A family outing to see I need a Doctor: The Whosical at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre in Guildford (which I highly recommend to Dr Who fans) took me in search of a nearby restaurant. I settled on Olivo, as it’s smelt so divine every time I’ve walked past and it’s steps away from the theatre.

Olivo Guildford

This is the type of olde worlde building that excites the foreigner in me. The building is a late Elizabethan timber-framed house, dating back to the early 1660’s. Nooks, crannies, beams, vaulted ceiling, stairs to various levels leading to variously sized rooms and wood floors a marble couldn’t stand still on. No decoration is need as the building shows itself but I suppose the owners feel no Italian restaurant is complete without photo montages of Italy on the wall.

The atmosphere was fabulous, Olivo was bustling but because of all the different rooms it didn’t feel loud or pressurised.

We were lucky enough to sit in the top room, where it seems the top little attic floor has been removed to create an airy vaulted ceiling obscured by horizontal beams.

I would love to have taken zillions of photos of the interior, however it was so busy and I’m too chicken to take photos with people in them. So I only managed one, in the room with the vaulted ceiling, sorry.

Olivo Guildford interior

The menu is relatively small by Italian restaurant standards, no doubt because Olivo promises they only use fresh, quality ingredients. It’s filled with classics, but also some nice modern interpretations.

There were plenty of staff to meet its busyness. I had a little walk around to check out all the rooms and couldn’t move five feet without getting in the way of yet another scurrying server.

Jman can’t resist a calzone, particularly a meatball one. He jumped at the Calzone meatballs £10.90 folded pizza, tomato, mozzarella, spinach, onion, garlic, meatballs. It was generously portioned, could have used a wee bit more spice but overalls was quite good.

Olivo meatball calzone

My kids each ordered the same thing, actually the same thing they order every time it’s on the menu (from the appetisers section), Calamari £5.95 deep fried, bread crumbed calamari rings, lemon, garlic and aromatic herb dressing, tartare sauce. It was tasty, a good portion considering it was a starter. Nicely flavoured dipping sauce. Of course my children didn’t let me try one, so that feedback comes straight from the mouth of a ten year old.

Olivo calamari

They did let me try their sides of chips, patatine fritte £3.00 chips. The were perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy in the inside. And most importantly, they were the perfect dimensions – not too big and not too small, although they could do with fresher oil.

Olivo chips

I had the Merluzzo £14.95 pan fried fillet of cod, pancetta (Italian bacon), chilli, garlic, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, served with crushed potatoes and leeks. The sauce was delicious, great flavours and textures with a good hint of heat, the fish was nicely cooked and the potatoes had a nice flavour that were super yummy when mixed with the sauce.

Olivo cod chilli tomatoes sweet peppers pancetta potatoes leeks

I wish we’d had more time to linger over some desserts in the great atmosphere but we had to rush off the to theatre. Olivo is a lovely gem of a restaurant that’s suitable for a myriad of occasions.

(tips, the online booking form told me the restaurant was full but it was no problem to get a table when I phoned. It’s an extremely convenient restuarant for the Yvonne Arnaud theatre.)

53 Quarry Street, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3UA
Town carpark


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