Monday, January 27, 2014

Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA

This casual bistro-style restaurant in Bethlehem, PA serves cuisine with an international twist and a selection of creative signature cocktails.

BLT Bucatini - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA | Taste As You Go
BLT Bucatini - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA

When Stephen and I heard that a new restaurant was opening in the spot previously home to Starfish Brasserie in downtown Bethlehem, we couldn't wait to learn more. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get over to Twisted Olive for dinner until it had already been open for a couple of months, and, as life would have it, I'm only just writing up my review now.

Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA | Taste As You Go
Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA

On this particular occasion, Stephen and I met up with friends for a midweek dinner out. When we arrived, we were one of three tables, and the restaurant remained about half full throughout our entire time there, even as the peak dinner hour came and went. The small dinner crowd surprised me, but then I wondered whether Twisted Olive was busier on the weekends.

The Tipping Point - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA | Taste As You Go
The Tipping Point - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA

Since the restaurant promised an innovative list of signature cocktails, I wanted to start with one of them rather than with a glass of wine. After all, the name Twisted Olive conjures up images of martinis, doesn't it? Unfortunately, when I finally got a look at the cocktail menu, I was disappointed to discover that I only had ten drinks to choose from. They all sounded interesting, but, well, I was just expecting more.

After a little bit of deliberation, I ordered The Tipping Point ($10). A mixture of Thai basil-infused gin, lemongrass ginger syrup, lime, and red bell pepper, this coral-colored cocktail is served in a glass with a chipotle sugar rim that left a spicy heat on my lips after the first sip. I wish I could tell you that The Tipping Point became my new favorite drink right there on the spot, but there was something about drinking it that felt strange. Halfway through the drink, I finally figured it out -- drinking the cocktail was like drinking a dish of Pad Thai that had been pureed and turned into an alcoholic beverage.

Short Rib Ravioli - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA | Taste As You Go
Short Rib Ravioli - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA

We decided to order a bunch of appetizers to share. I chose the Short Rib Ravioli ($9.50) filled with braised short ribs and caramelized onions and served with a Madeira cream sauce. The filling was flavorful and the sauce was rich without being overpowering, but the pasta was a little thick with a slightly gummy texture.

Twisted Olives - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA | Taste As You Go
Twisted Olives - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA

The rest of the table decided to try the Twisted Olives ($9.50) because the dish shared the same name as the restaurant. The olives are stuffed with a mixture of sausage and Parmesan cheese, breaded with panko, and then deep-fried and served with a garlic aioli. While the olives certainly won points for creativity, the general opinion was that they were on the salty side. I think the combination of the briny olives with the sausage and the Parmesan was just too much.

Seared Prosciutto-Wrapped Tuna - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA | Taste As You Go
Seared Prosciutto-Wrapped Tuna - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA

To round out our order of appetizers, we shared the Seared Prosciutto-Wrapped Tuna ($13.50) served with a sauce made from limoncello, shallots, capers, and garlic butter and roasted tomatoes and micro greens on the side. The fish was tasty and cooked just right, but we all wondered about the dish, which represented another curious pairing of something salty (prosciutto) with something briny (capers). Was the sauce more complicated than it needed to be?

BLT Bucatini - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA | Taste As You Go
BLT Bucatini - Twisted Olive - Bethlehem, PA

For my main entree, I went with something straightforward -- the BLT Bucatini ($18.50) served with roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic, pancetta, arugula, and olive oil. What I thought would be a simple dish wound up being overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. The portion size was excessive, and by the time I decided that I was full, I still had more than half of the pasta on the plate. Because of the bucatini, the pasta was a little cumbersome to eat and I had difficulty getting the pasta and the other components on the fork at the same time.

While the cuisine with an international twist at Twisted Olive fell short of our expectations, the evening was an overall success because it allowed us to spend time with some of our dearest friends. And that's more important.

Twisted Olive
51 West Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 419-1200 | Map

Twisted Olive on Urbanspoon

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