There’s no lack of sandwich shops in Jeddah. From the good old cheap greasy egg sandwiches at your friendly neighborhood buffet/cafeteria, to famous sub franchises like Subway, to fancy trendy overpriced cafes. There are literally hundreds of them, catering to all tastes and budgets. So it’s no surprise that L’Olivo has remained one of Jeddah’s best kept secrets. Fear not, for I shall now turn whistle blower!
Being a small shop in the quiet Al Hamra district has kept L’Olivo almost invisible to all but residents and word-of-mouth converts. Entering Arafat street from Madinah road (passing the Aramco building), L’Olivo can be seen on your left, hiding behind the larger and similarly green Gardenia center. This tiny place is strictly takeaway, so be prepared to have somewhere else to eat. I go to the pretty Jeddah Corniche, which is nearby, when I’m too hungry to wait until I reach home.
So what’s so special? What’s the hype about? What’s with the pretentious Italian name? Like most of it’s peers they serve fresh bread stuffed with familiar ingredients like salami, turkey, tuna… etc. Ah, but take a gander at these not-so-familiar ones: olive paste, fresh mushrooms, crema di peperoncino (Italian hot sauce), pesto, goat milk labnah, various cheeses (halloumi, parmgiano, smoked cheddar, emmental, mozarella, goda … etc), the list goes on and I’m tired of typing. If that doesn’t make your taste buds tingle and your mouth water, then there’s no hope for you.
The produce used is fresh and a lot of it organic. They even sell it in the shop, so it’s a good place to pickup some good olive oil or balsamic vinegar with your sandwiches. And believe me quality ingredients do make a difference. It’s a bit pricier than a fried liver sandwich, ranging from 16-30 Riyals per sandwich, but given the ingredients in use quite that’s understandable.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Just schedule your next lunch break or attack of the munchies into a quick visit to L’Olivo. You won’t regret it. Heck, you can even keep it your own best kept secret like I have done for so many years.Read more