The Black Olive

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Gladiator paintings and ancient sculptures decorate the walls. The aroma of Greek dressing lingers in the air. Two men speak in low tones at the bar in Greek accents.

Just one step into this small restaurant, and you instantly feel as if you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean. The restaurant is not in the bustling streets of Athens or the spectacular cliffs of Santorini, but instead is located in the heart of Armory Square.

The swinging sign marking the home of The Black Olive calls it a “Mediterranean Taverna.” The description could not be more accurate. With a menu full of moderately priced Greek favorites, there is something for every palate, including burgers for those in the mood for more of an American feel. The food is expertly prepared and the decorum welcoming, so much so that it feels as if you’ve literally just walked in from the cobbled streets of Delphi, Greece.  

When to Go: The Black Olive is open for lunch only Monday through Friday, but it's open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. It is Black Olive’s dinner menu that truly shines, while the lunch menu offers plenty of options. The restaurant is generally quiet during the day but busy at night. The Black Olive's specialties, martinis and souvlaki, are available during both lunch and dinner. Hours are Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The bottom line: Come during lunch for a quiet atmosphere and during dinner for more bustle.

On Tap: For a small Greek restaurant, The Black Olive has an extensive wine, spirits and beer list. At the restaurant's tiny bar, the specialty is martinis. The Black Olive has 11 regular martinis on the drink menu and nine additional flavors that change seasonally. The restaurant’s drink menu also features mojitos, margaritas, wine, beer and spirits. The drink menu contains Greek products, such as Mythos beer, Ouzo by Metaxa, and traditional alcoholic beverages. The bottom line: Try one of The Black Olive’s signature martinis, especially ones specially made for the season.

Blue Plate Special: The Black Olive’s menu is extensive, especially the dinner menu. The restaurant’s specialty, naturally, is the Greek dishes. The souvlaki and gyro platters are a must-try and rival the real thing found in Greece. The large platters average $11 at lunch and $17 at dinner. The Mezedakia, or appetizers, range from $4 to $10 and are made to mix and match in place of a main meal for lunch or dinner. The appetizers include calamari, hummus and spanakopita. The tzatziki is large enough for two to split as an appetizer. The Black Olive also features specialty sandwiches, each named after Greek cities, and burgers for $8 to $10. Dinner entrees can be found for as low as $8 or as high as $31, which is the cost of a Greek platter made for two. The bottom line: Be bold and try a Greek classic dish, such as souvlaki.

The Scene: The Black Olive is small and a good location for a nice dinner without the cost of a fancy restaurant. The lights are bright for lunch but dim for dinner. The restaurant has an earthy feel, much like the Greece countryside, with the walls and floor in brown hues. The storefront is coved with large windows, and a seat next to these panes offers a great view onto Clinton Street. The bottom line: The atmosphere is nice but relaxed with a traditionally decorated interior.

The Crew: The waiters and waitresses wear all black, yet their personalities are anything but glum. Our waitress had worked at The Black Olive for seven years and had suggestions and answers for all aspects of the menu. She was friendly and the food came out quickly. The bottom line: The wait staff is welcoming and helpful when maneuvering through the menu.

Extras: The Black Olive is a great fix for those craving Mediterranean food or neophytes who want to try something new. Credit cards and cash are accepted for payment, and the restaurant has access to the disabled. The Black Olive also takes reservations by phone. Parking is on the street and, as is usually the case in Armory Square, it can be difficult to find during the night and on weekends. The bottom line: There is something for everyone. Opa!

Profile by Kaitlin Santanna


316 Clinton Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 399-5599

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