photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Olea image



Old City

$$$$Perfect For:BYOBCasual Weeknight DinnerCatching Up With MatesLiterally EveryoneDate Night
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There’s a new spectator sport in Old City: sitting at a table in Olea’s dining room and watching the hungry try to get a table. Perhaps it’s because it’s one of two Mediterranean restaurants in the neighborhood. But we’re going with the fact that beyond the good food, the small, cash-only BYOB provides an intimate atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re at a family dinner.

Olea image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Right next to Tomo Sushi and Ramen and a neighborhood market, the 32-seat dining room has a few candlelit tables and a cushioned banquette in the back that’s ideal for a small group. It’s a cozy space, and the staff is stellar—when you walk in the door, they immediately welcome you by name. Either they can all do a stint on Long Island Medium, or they’re just extremely friendly and attentive. Near the big picture window, there are rows of hanging plants and a wall of art for sale, making it the best mini art gallery you’ve ever been to since it has the scent of lemony octopus and pesto broth wafting through the air. 

Olea image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Dinner starts with a complimentary spread of hummus, pita, and olives. Every dish on the menu is big enough to share, so it can be a go-to spot for a group dinner or a romantic date night (but plan for leftovers). Skip the pasta section altogether and focus on the starters and mains—share a bowl of the savory limoncello mussels and a 14 oz pork chop, perfectly seared in a grainy mustard sauce, or the tender octopus with peppery chorizo, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, and smoky romesco.

Olea image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Although Olea is a BYOB, don’t shy away from their mocktails, which are fantastic. The smoked grapefruit or lavender punch might be more refreshing than whatever sparkling drink you brought to pair with the salmon. They’re perfectly blended and are usually filled with fresh-pressed juices. 

Olea image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Olea's biggest draw remains its warm and friendly atmosphere that feels classic Philly BYO. It's a place where you can share a few comforting dishes, finally uncork that bottle someone gave you for your birthday, and forget you're in the part of town where you're outnumbered 3-to-1 by tourists.

Food Rundown

The menu changes often, but here are some dishes you can expect.
Olea image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO


Not only is this one of the best dishes here, it’s also the most colorful. It’s full of peppery smoked sausage, tender and juicy octopus, soft cubes of potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and a bright orange romesco sauce.
Olea image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO


We haven’t made a guide for the best toasty bread that you get with main dishes—yet. But when we do, the large slice of sourdough served with these mussels will be on the list. It can be used to sop up the limoncello pesto broth that’s so good, we might consider enjoying it without the mollusks.


We’re always in the mood for pasta, but this one’s not worth your time. The plate of this cylinder-shaped pasta is topped with a basil and eggplant marinara and an eggplant drizzle. The mix is tomato-y, a little creamy, and super garlicky. It’s not that it’s lacking in flavor–it’s just so simple that it defeats the point of going out to dinner.
Olea image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO


This light, perfectly cooked branzino filet is simply made with lemon vinaigrette, tomato, and olives, and topped with specks of parsley. If your date is always stealing bites of your food, know that you’ll spend the night watching it disappear.

Salted Caramel Gelato

If you have room left, this light and creamy dessert is the one to go for. The caramel flavor is subtle and perfectly balanced–which means it’s not overly sweet. And each smooth and silky spoonful is almost as good as Franklin Fountain’s just a few blocks over. So save yourself the after-dinner walk and get your scoops here.


Suggested Reading

The Best BYOBs In Philly image

The Best BYOBs In Philly

Our guide to the 20 best restaurants where you can BYOB in Philly.

The Best BYOBs For Date Night image

11 places to bring a bottle and someone you’re into.

Pumpkin Restaurant image

Pumpkin is a small BYOB on South Street that focuses on seasonal vegetables and works well for a slightly more serious date.

Pietramala image

Pietramala is delivering show-stopping vegan dishes from start to finish in Northern Liberties.

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