Where the late high-end steakhouse Chophouse One11 was once tucked away within the inner halls of The Murray Premises, “EVOO in the Courtyard” has now taken over the space and opened themselves up physically and atmospherically.
The restaurant has a brand new entrance onto the courtyard of The Murray Premises where The Gypsy Tea Room expands its bar in summer. This beckoning, open air oasis will finally get its due outside of the warm season.
The cast iron gates along Water Street will remain open through the evening and all are invited to walk down the brick steps through the lantern lit courtyard, for the classic romance of a great plate of spaghetti and meatballs.
The comfort and simplicity of EVOO’s new menu are appealing and family friendly, as is the new lower price point and availability of high chairs. EVOO stands for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and the menu is steeped in it. It flavours each dish and informs the taste and style of the selections.
O’leva, a local retailer of fine olive oils and vinegars, supplies the oil and there are individual bottles on each table. Though more broadly Mediterranean/Adriatic in concept, EVOO’s menu focuses on traditional Italian specialities (risotto, gnocchi, chicken parmesan, handmade pastas).
Pizzas from the wood-fired oven and burgers and cod round out the menu into a solid crowd pleaser, if the crowd is looking for meat. The Mediterranean staples of peppers and eggplants (or any vegetable-focused entree for that matter) were conspicuously absent on the opening week’s menu.
Though if you don’t want meat you could skip straight to dessert and the homemade tiramisu or gelato, or get a few last drops of olive oil with a serving of baklava. If you want more meat, the retention of Chophouse One11’s dry-aging room means EVOO will continue to offer house-made charcuterie though now geared towards their new theme (lambchetta!).
The emphasis on meat and umami flavours woven through the weft of regional cuisine reflects the backgrounds of the team in the kitchen who all come to EVOO from the rich, savory and protein-infused traditions of St John’s gastro-pubs.
If you have been wondering where Mark McCrowe’s talents would land after he shuttered his popular restaurants (The Club and Aqua), look no further. Chef McCrowe, along with chefs Chris Chafe and Peter Anthony (both of whom have worked at Magnum and Steins) are working under the proven managerial skills of executive chef Daniel Butler (of EVOO’s congenitally joined sibling, The Gypsy Tea Room).
All of this, and EVOO’s access to the wine selection of The Gypsy, bodes well for EVOO’s future filling a hitherto empty niche downtown of cozy Italian “Lady and the Tramp” style.
EVOO may be one eggplant parm and one meat-free pasta option away from setting itself up to be a very big fish in the relatively small pond of casual, savvy, accessible restaurants where you can take the whole family.