Great food comes in a small package

Olive, An Urban Dive offers local food in intimate setting

By Brian P. Sharp

Photo: The Urban burger with sweet potato fries and aioli at Olive, An Urban Dive

Olive, An Urban Dive is not new to downtown Dayton, but it has not been on my short list of restaurants to frequent.

On a chilly night – and there have been plenty  – I happened in with a couple friends to give it a try. Certainly, from the outside Olive hasn’t changed much from the old days as the Wympee Diner. Once you step inside, though, the atmosphere is totally different. It is compact and dark, but not in a bad way. Though I must say, it was so dimly lit that I could hardly read the menu.

It would appear to me that Olive is Dayton’s version of Yellow Springs’ The Winds, but even more globally responsible. Even though reading the menu was tough, the opening paragraph of the menu speaks to the size of the kitchen (280 square feet) and the fact deliveries are daily, there is no microwave, dishes are hand washed and they recycle everything they can. They have even added their own two-acre farm for growing fresh produce.

There is a motto on the menu that says “Local over import, labor over convenience and service over everything else. We chase chickens, when we say free range … we mean it.” The menu also states they are gluten-free, vegan, paleo and allergy-friendly. I have to say this is nothing short of impressive. My friend Steve has a number of allergies and after discussing them with the server, we were assured everything he was considering was fine or would be made specifically for him to avoid any kind of allergic reaction.

In reading the dinner menu, I have to say I was more impressed with the small plates, salad and pizza options than I was of the entrées and sandwiches. There are only six entrées on the menu, plus a nightly special, but with a kitchen that is only 280 square feet I guess I understand. It can make deciding on a dinner entrée, however, a difficult decision. If I go back I think I would try lunch or brunch, as those menus seemed to offer a much more diverse list of options. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and brunch is served Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Before I begin to talk about the food, I should say that our server Tyler was friendly, attentive and informed. He was personable and made certain we knew exactly what our options were and they were happy to accommodate any need. Tyler was assisted by Laura, who was always available and ready to help us, clear a dish or refill a cup. Service is clearly paramount to the experience at Olive.

Olive does not have a liquor license, however, so BYOB if you intend to drink wine or beer. There is a $3 service fee for bringing your own.

We decided on an appetizer small plate called the big Greek plate. It included tzatziki dip, hummus, kalamata olives, feta slices and grilled pita. The serving size was certainly appropriate for the three of us to share for $12. The feta was fresh and thickly sliced. The greens and olives were lightly dressed. The hummus was fresh and delicious. The tzatziki was creamy and tart with just the right amount of herb and spice. Appetizers or small plates range in price from $4 for bread and oil to $13 for risotto bombs. I could certainly have made a dinner of small plate options. Dante’s Inferno pepper poppers were one of those options – peppers that are sliced and filled with feta and cream cheese and baked – and you can also get them battered and fried in the fritter batter for $2 more.

For our entrées, I chose the perfectly paleo platter (which is also gluten-free). On my platter, I opted to have chicken – rather than a burger – on top of a fried egg (fried in EVOO) and served beside roasted vegetables and avocado slices, which are then topped with bacon slices and house-made salsa. This is an entrée that is filling, but not over-filling. A celebration of flavors that when eaten together are sure to please. One friend chose the nightly special of pumpkin penne bake – which is a baked penne pasta with house-made sausage, apples, parsnips and bacon with a pumpkin sauce – served with bread that was topped with pesto and cheese and broiled – it had my friend nearly squealing with delight. Entrées range in price from $17 for the risotto to $26 for slow roasted rabbit.

My other friend ordered the Urban burger – which is more than a third of a pound – served with fried leeks, beef bacon glaze and aioli. However, he opted to have his served with sweet potato fries with aioli for the leeks.

Sandwich options range in price from $13 for the falafel burger to $23 for a 12oz burger option – that includes a fried cheese wedge. There are also some flatbread pizza options on the menu that sound great.

Desserts are house made, and besides those options freshly baked, there is also a long list of options from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. We opted to share a one-scoop option from the Jeni’s list – Riesling poached pear sorbet – which was so delicious I had to get out my phone and find out where I could find it locally – Dorothy Lane Market.

This is not a restaurant for everyone. It is small, intimate and has a limited menu compared to other restaurants around town. If you are, however, a person with any kind of dietary concern – vegan, gluten-free, paleo – this is the place for you … or anyone else that has a bit more of a curious palette.

I am definitely going back for lunch or brunch. Who wants to join me?


Olive, An Urban Dive is located at 416 E. Third St. in Dayton. For more information, please call 937.222.3483 or visit


Reach DCP dining critic Brian P. Sharp at


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Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at

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