Family-run Olio in Chelmsford is a smart affair (note the dress code with forbids tracksuits and hoodies), but also a welcoming and warm restaurant.
The restaurant is decked out in a neutral grey colour palette, completed by high-back leather chairs, sparkling chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and artwork depicting iconic Italian landscapes on the walls. There is also a small bar towards the back of the restaurant, as well as a few tables on the street-side terrace should you want to pop out for some fresh air.
Olio is open for lunch and dinner. If you come during the day, you can enjoy an Italian-style omelette or instead opt for bowls of pasta filled with the likes of spaghetti carbonara or prawn linguine. There are a few classic pizzas on offer too, such as the standard margarita or the American hot, while those who are feeling virtuous can enjoy grilled salmon with romaine lettuce leaves, red onions and cherry tomatoes or a classic Caesar salad with grilled marinated chicken.
In the evening, Olio’s menu expands to include a few extra starters such as fried calamari served with tartar sauce and grilled aubergine topped with basil and parmesan. Pizzas are not available during the evening, but you can still order pasta dishes, as well as the more substantial likes of veal Milanese, chicken cooked in a chestnut mushroom and brandy sauce or a hefty ribeye steak which comes complete with garlic mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and thick-cut chips.
The pudding menu at Olio is a celebration of traditional Italian afters, with the tempting selection ranging from tiramisu dusted with a rich cocoa powder to panna cotta drizzled with caramel sauce. You can finish up your meal with tea and coffee, or treat yourself to something a little more special with a glass of wine or fizz.