Olivero's New Menu To Highlight Seasonal Flavors

By Katie Schmidt, posted May 15, 2024
Olivero founder and owner Sunny Gerhart and co-executive chef Lauren Krall Ivey are introducing new menu items that highlight seasonal summer flavors. (Photo by Terah Hoobler)
After opening in September with more than 20 menu items, Olivero founder and owner Sunny Gerhart and co-executive chef Lauren Krall Ivey could have sat back and let the “soon-to-be-favorite-pasta joint” fulfill its destiny in the minds and stomachs of its guests. 

But in recent months, the team at Olivero has swapped out a slew of menu items — with a few exceptions — for new flavors with more seasonal ingredients. 

“Being in North Carolina, there's so much produce that is seasonal that it's hard to not incorporate it,” Krall Ivey said. “It's just natural to be like, ‘We have corn, let's use corn… Now it's strawberry season, let's use strawberries.’ I know there will be some things that people look for and are sad to see leave, but then you get to try something new.”

The menu’s structure is likely to remain the same — a mix of appetizers, vegetable dishes, pastas and meat — but some elements will change. “I think it's just a natural byproduct of the way Sunny and I like to cook,” she said.

Krall Ivey wanted to shift away from menu items that were feeling stale. Much of Olivero’s original menu pre-opening revolved around Gerhart’s Spanish and Italian familial roots, and it still does. 

But, “it also goes back to Sunny's great-grandfather's story of sailing from Spain to New Orleans,” Krall Ivey said. “So going around North Africa and kind of having those Mediterranean and North African and even a little bit of Middle Eastern flavors kind of melding in.”

That melding comes to life throughout Olivero’s current menu. An item like the baharat spiced crispy cauliflower (a typical dish in Morocco) is also a little bit Mediterranean (the toum) and a little bit Italian (the olives and poached raisin vinaigrette). 

“This is my favorite part of the job,” Krall Ivey said. “I like actually getting to cook and playing with food and tasting new things. I can get so wrapped up in just the day-to-day operations of things or having to come in and thinking, ‘I have to roll this pasta to be ready for service and that is my only goal for the day.’ That gets draining, so I’m really just enjoying finding the actual time to do the fun, chef-y side of things.”

As for what’s next, Krall Ivey hinted at new summer ingredients like corn, okra, tomatoes, and peppers, and even the possibility of returning favorites. 

“I don’t think anything is off the table,” she said. “Sunny and I really like growing and developing new dishes, but I’m also into classics. If there’s something that was really great at one time, I’m not afraid to put it back.”
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