Olivia Charms The Upper East Side

eastrivercafe flowerOlivia

1111 First Avenue
New York, NY 10065




FAX: (212) 980-3171

Monday-Friday: 12:00pm-4:00pm

Saturday-Sunday: 11:30am-4:00pm

Sunday-Tuesday: 4:00pm-10:00pm
Wednesday-Thursday: 4:00pm-11:00pm

CUISINE: Mediterranean
(Contemporary and classic Mediterranean
dishes. In addition, a unique variety of
thin-crusted pizzas and homemade gnocchi
are available from the oven.)


DRESS: Elegant Casual


SEATING CAPACITY: Bi-level dining room seats 100
(Wraparound Outdoor Café seats 24

(Wraparound Outdoor Café seats 24)

PARTY FACILITIES: Available upon request
(Upper level of dining room or entire restaurant is
available for private parties and special events.)


eastrivercafe sam


The delightful Olivia offers a tinkling piano, packed-bar-scene, and the area’s best value in first rate dining, with an outstanding Italian-Mediterranean kitchen. Inside, there are three attractive rooms with high back country-style chairs, bare wood floors, tables set with double-white cloths and crisp white linen, and walls hung with framed photos depicting scene from films. Prices are midrange with many entrees priced under $25. Steak Sinatra is a terrific hunk of grilled prime-aged Rib eye, sautéed with porcini mushrooms, served with broccoli rabe and mashed potatoes. One of the most expensive dishes on the menu ($28), it is still a bargain. Also loved an elegant Pollo alla Vecchia Maniera, Sautéed Chicken Breast with White Wine Lemon Capers Sauce. Served with Spinach and Mashed Potatoes and a sassy Costoletto, Grilled Pork Chop.with Cherry Peppers, Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Potatoes .

You won’t find a lighter lasagna or gnocchi anywhere and what meatballs on the perfectly cooked spaghetti. All pizzas are recommend, especially the four -cheese or prosciutto-truffle-oil versions.. A recent dinner started with generous cocktails (fabulous martinis) and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from a short well-selected and amazingly inexpensive wine list. Wines by the glass average $9 and there is value between $30 and $40 (go for the Italian whites and a robust Argentinean Malbec).

Besides the fabulous pizzas, pasta and entrees, there were such  lovely desserts as a fluffy house-made tiramisu and crispy cannoli. Service is highly efficient and accommodating and owner Sam Marcos is a warm and charming host. Now if every neighborhood could have a restaurant as pleasant as Olivia, what a wonderful world this would be


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eastrivercafe tiramisu eastrivercafe pizza


Copyright 2011 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved


The Menu Print this page

Lunch and Brunch
  • L’Originale

    Mixed Green Salad with Cherry Tomatoes

    • $6.00
  • Insalata di Cesar

    Classic Caesar Salad

    • $8.00
  • Insalata TriColore

    Arugula, Endive, Radicchio in Balsamic Vinaigrette

    • $8.00
  • Insalata di Nizarda

    Tuna, Mix Greens, String Beans, Potatoes, Eggs, Roasted Peppers in Lemon Vinaigrette

    • $8.00
  • Insalata Ai Lamponi

    Feta Cheese, Arugula, Fresh Raspberries & Vinaigrette

    • $8.00
  • Insalata di Spinaci

    Spinach, Crispy Bacon, Potato, Artichoke Hearts & Goat Cheese

    • $8.00
  • Margherita Pizza

    Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato

    • $12.00
  • Bianco Quattro Formaggi Pizza

    Brie, Pecorino Romano, Gorgonzola and Fresh Mozzarella

    • $14.00
  • Veggie Pizza

    Anchovies, Mushroom, Black Olives and Onion

    • $14.00
  • San Gennaro Pizza

    Fresh Italian Sweet Sausage, Peppers and Onion

    • $14.00
  • Olivia’s Burger

    Beef, Mozzarella Cheese, Crispy Bacon, Oyster Mushroom, Tomato, Onion. Served with Green Salad & French Fries

    • $14.00
  • Fantastico

    Turkey Breast, Avocado, Dijon Mustards, Lettuce, Tomato on Whole-Wheat Bread. Served with Potato Chips

    • $12.00
  • Magnifico

    Grilled Chicken Breast, Brie Cheese, Roasted Pepper, Arugula on a Hero. Served with Potatoes & Green Salad

    • $14.00
  • Delizioso

    Smoked Salmon, Crispy Bacon, Arugula, Tomato, Dill Spread on Toasted Club. Served with Potatoes Chips & Mix Green Salad

    • $15.00
  • Spaghetti al Pomodoro Fresco

    Whole Wheat Spaghetti in Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

    • $13.00
  • Orecchiette Barese

    Italian Sausage, Broccoli Rabe in Garlic White Wine Sauce

    • $15.00
  • Linguine alla Vongole

    Clams in White Wine Garlic or Tomato Sauce

    • $17.00
  • Spaghetti Meat Balls

    Grandma’s Recipe. Meat Balls in Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

    • $15.00

    Saturday & Sunday Noon – 3:30 pm, Includes a Bloody Mary, Momosa, Coffee, or Tea

    • $14.95
  • French Toast

    Raisin Toast. Served with Fresh Fruit Salad

  • Uova Benedette

    Scramble Eggs, Steak (add $3.00) or Bacon. Served with Salad & Potato

  • Uova Della Principessa

    Smoked Salmon Omelette. Served with Mix Green Salad & Potato

  • Frittata Di Verdure

    Eggs Frittata Omelette, Asparagus & Wild Mushroom. Served with Salad & Roasted Potato

  • Omlette Alla Valdostana

    Ham, Fontina Cheese Omelette. Served with Salad & Potato

  • Uova Purgatorys

    Sunny Side Eggs Cooked in Tomato Sauce. Served with Salad & Roasted Potato



Background Material


Olivia, the exotic, romantic Midtown Manhattan Mediterranean restaurant features the contemporary and classic Mediterranean menus of executive chef Sam Marcos. The restaurant, which opened in July 1994, as East River Cafe, is owned by chef/restaurateur Sam Marcos.

The exotic, stylish atmosphere recreates the charming ambiance of a contemporary Mediterranean restaurant. The ambiance reveals itself through a 20-foot long custom-made copper bar, a bi-level dining room with a 14-foot high ceiling, candlelit round tables, handsome mahogany and fabric-upholstered chairs, hard wood and Mediterranean tiled floors, pale pink walls, antique copper lanterns on the walls, recessed mood lighting, and French doors opening onto a wraparound outdoor café. On Wednesday through Saturday nights, accomplished pianist Alberto Aprigliano plays classical and popular music in the bar alongside the front dining room.

The seasonal Mediterranean menus are sophisticated and creative, yet simple and earthy. Chef Sam Marcos’ menus represent the authentic cooking style of the Mediterranean. His Mediterranean dishes and sauces are enhanced by an impressive selection of fresh, flavorful Mediterranean herbs, imported Italian buffalo mozzarella, homemade pastas and gnocchi, seasonal Mediterranean ingredients, an exciting choice of authentic Mediterranean appetizers, and a unique selection of fresh fish and meat dishes. Marcos has also created a separate Pizza Menu featuring a unique selection of thin-crusted pizzas. His use of fresh fruits, seasonal vegetables as well as a variety of Mediterranean flavors is the foundation of the restaurant’s culinary style.

Executive chef Sam Marcos celebrates authentic Mediterranean cooking at Olivia with a particular emphasis on classic and contemporary Mediterranean dishes. A native of Cairo, Egypt, Marcos learned to cook from his mother and grandmother along with dining out often with his family in local Cairo restaurants. After completing his educational studies in Egypt, Marcos moved to New York City in 1981. He worked at a wide variety of New York City restaurants in all areas of the business from the front of the house to the kitchen. However, his ongoing passion for authentic Mediterranean recipes and cuisine inspired him to open Olivia, FKA East River Café, in 1994, a modern Mediterranean restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.

Marcos continues: “The cooking of the Mediterranean in general is simple and earthy. I grew up in Cairo so that a lot of my culinary roots are based in that wonderful city. Later on, I learned and enjoyed Mediterranean cooking and presentation. I wanted to combine the influences of my native city and the surrounding regions in my menus at Olivia Cafe. However, I remain inspired by my constant discovery of old Mediterranean recipes and the creation of new ones so that my dishes evolve along with the menus. My philosophy with food is to keep the flavors simple and let the ingredients shine. If you over-complicate the food, the flavors become muddled.”

Restaurateur Sam Marcos oversees the areas of food, wine, service, and ambiance. He provides personalized, individual service and attention to all diners to ensure a memorable dining experience.

Marcos explains: “I have attempted to create a sophisticated, yet comfortable, environment with friendly and attentive service – professional and unobtrusive yet warm and welcoming – treating each diner as an individual. I want my customers to come and relax as though they were dining in my own home. Most people like simplicity, consistency, and warm, comfortable surroundings. It is my pleasure providing this special hospitality which is a part of my cultural heritage.”

Olivia features a superior selection of global wines. The international wine list, created by Sam Marcos, changes seasonally and is continually evolving. An impressive number of wines by the glass are also available. In addition, there is an impressive wine cellar downstairs.

Marcos explains his philosophy of this seasonal global wine list: “My international wine list offers an impressive selection of first-class wines. I work closely with both small and large-estate vineyards to create a unique selection of wines to complement my Mediterranean menus. It is also my belief that by removing an intimidating edge to the presentation, selection, and service of wine, my guests can relax, have fun, and become more familiar with the exciting variety of global wines.”

Olivia has already become so popular that many customers have rented the restaurant for private parties, business events, and even weddings. Marcos works closely with his customers in creating customized special event menus and accommodations.

Marcos concludes: “Olivia, first and foremost, celebrates the union of fine international wine, food, service, and ambiance. Although I have created a sophisticated, yet romantic, dining experience. I want my customers to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves as though they were dining in a local Mediterranean restaurant. There is no attitude or pretense here.”

Olivia, with its authentic Mediterranean menus created by Executive Chef Sam Marcos, superior global wine list, exotic romantic setting, first-class service, and personalized proprietorship, offers a refined dining experience for all to enjoy.

BAR: Full-service sit-down bar. The handsome
20-foot long custom-made copper bar features
stylish barstools, hanging Tiffany lamps, and
a striking 100-year old antique mirror. The bar
features an impressive selection of global wines.
A variety of wines are available by the glass. In
addition, a premier selection of spirits, liquors,
after-dinner drinks, dessert wines, and specialty
cocktails such as Pomegranate Martini (Level
Vodka with a Splash of DeKuyper Pomegranate),
Key Lime Martini (Tommy Bahama Rum, Orange
Liqueur, Fresh Key Lime Juice, and a Splash of Kajmir
Vanilla Liqueur), and Tatanaka (Bison Grass Vodka,
Apple Juice, a Splash of Lime Juice, and a Hint of
Vanilla) are also available. The Lunch/Brunch and
Dinner Menus are available at the bar. On Wednesday
through Saturday from 7:00 PM until 12:00 Midnight,
accomplished pianist Alberto Aprigliano plays classical
and popular music in the bar alongside the front dining room.

ATMOSPHERE: Exotic, romantic ambiance. The stylish bi-level dining
room is enhanced by a 14-foot high ceiling, candlelit
round tables, exotic custom-made mahogany and
fabric-upholstered chairs, pale pink walls, antique
hand-carved mirrors, recessed mood lighting,
black-and-white vintage photos of classic movie stars,
antique copper lanterns on the walls, hard wood and
Mediterranean tiled floors, and French doors opening
onto a charming outdoor café to create a contemporary
Mediterranean setting.

OUTDOOR CAFÉ: A charming wraparound outdoor café on a
quiet East Side street seats 24 people. It is
enhanced by potted plants and by wood
flower boxes. It is open March through

DESIGNER: Sam Marcos



OWNER: Sam Marcos

OPENING DATE: July, 1994

Wine List short: well selected and amazingly inexpensive, with many choices under $30. 10 Wines By The Glass: $7-$9. Bottles $25-$85


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