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The Black Olive is Rio Rancho’s newest restaurant. Located on Southern Boulevard just east of Sarah Road (in the shopping center by Albertson’s), the restaurant offers diners an upscale meal in a casual environment. The restaurant, which features three separate seating areas, provides an intimate yet laid back dining experience.

The menu and the Black Olive offers some of the finest cuts of steak, classic Italian dishes and a selection of “comfort foods” such as burgers and green chili stew. I know what you’re thinking — “Wow, that’s quite the erratic menu.” And, it is. But trust me on this one…everything on the menu is guaranteed to be a delicious, quality dish. We have known the owner, Matt Havey, for a few years and have been frequent visitors to restaurants he has managed in the past (Copeland’s of New Orleans, Gruet Steakhouse). The food at the Black Olive won’t disappoint.

On our first of what is sure to be many visits, we (Billy and me as well as my parents) tried to try a little bit of everything. We started off with one of the selections of olive plates, which includes a selection of house-marinated olives — served hot — and the frito misto plate, which was fried calamari, shrimp, green beans and olives. I’ve had plenty of fried calamari, but seriously? This platter was definitely on the top of the deliciousness list. The breading was awesome and the pesto aoili was addicting.

The Frito Misto

The Frito Misto

For the entrees, we all went for Italian dishes.My spaghetti with clam sauce, or vongole linguini, was awesome. If you’re a garlic lover, this is a must-have dish. Complete with at least five cloves of garlic (I don’t know if that’s true, but it sure seemed like it), the broth was delicious and a perfect lemony compliment to the pasta and clams. Billy had Matt’s family sausage, peppers and onions recipe. Just a heads up…when ordering this, be prepared to either eat your weight in food or to take home enough food for another meal. Regardless of portion size, the dish was very tasty. All the veggies were cooked perfectly — they had a bit of a bite — and the combination of seasonings was a great compliment to the sausage.

My Vongole Linguini

The Vongole Linguini

Billy's Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Billy's Sausage, Peppers and Onions

My dad, being the meat lover he is, went for the veal osso buco. If you’ve never had osso buco (or if you’re an osso buco lover), this is your chance. Let me just say right off the bat, it’s worth the extra money. This slow braised (in wine) veal will be the most tender, succulent piece of meat you will ever sink your teeth into. There isn’t much more to say about this dish…the veal is definitely the star here. Lastly comes the deliciousness of my mom’s choice, the traditional Italian cioppino. Chock-full of crab, mussels, clams, shrimp and fish, this “stew” had so much flavor that it was hard not to sop up every drip of the broth with bread (between the four of us, I think we might have accomplished it!). All of the seafood was so flavorful and tender and the broth had hints of the meat throughout. This would be a perfect dish for a cold night.

My Dad's Veal Osso Buco

My Dad's Veal Osso Buco

My Mom's Cioppino

My Mom's Cioppino

If you live in Rio Rancho or on Albuquerque’s west side, the Black Olive is a must-try restaurant. Since it’s classified as an “upscale” restaurant, be prepared to pay a little more than you’re used to for a typical night out (or at any restaurant in Rio Rancho, really). But believe me, it is worth every single penny you will pay. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is inviting and the staff is friendly, what more could you ask for? Visit the Web site to check out the menu and make a reservation. You won’t be disappointed.

P.S. Support the Black Olive by becoming a fan on Facebook or by following them on Twitter. You can also check them out on Urban Spoon.

Black Olive on Urbanspoon

Indigo Crow is an upper-scale American restaurant in Corrales, N.M. Actually, it’s a converted house, as many buildings in Corrales are. The indoor seating area is small — it probably only holds 10 or 15 tables. But really, the whole experience of the Crow is to go and enjoy a romantic (or not), laid back meal on the outdoor patio. Make sure to make reservations though, because this converted old house is one popular place! (Bonus…they offer online reservations using opentable.com!)

We love Indigo Crow. In all the times we’ve been there, we’ve never had a dish we didn’t like. The menu is seasonal and the chef almost always has nightly specials. Each Thursday night, the restaurant features the Chef’s wine dinner. If you so choose, diners get two entrees and a bottle of wine for $45 per couple. It really is a great deal.

Some must-have starter menu items are the fried calamari, the Caesar salad and the Catalina salad. The calamari has such a tasty batter that is slightly spicy (thanks to the wasabi) and comes with a delicious lime aioli. The dressing on the Caesar salad is house-made, along with the garlic parmesan croutons. My personal favorite is the Catalina salad. This is basically a cob salad kicked up a couple notches. It’s molded into a perfect square that pops off the plate in a beautiful 3D manner. I’m not a huge salad fan, but oh. my. god. I could eat this every day of my life.

As far as entrees go, you really can’t go wrong. Some of my favorites include the spicy Italian sausage pasta (which is basically just some sausage tossed with tomatoes and spinach in a garlic, butter, white wine sauce), the grilled Atlantic salmon with a sweet and spicy glaze and the grilled rack of lamb which comes with the Crow’s amazing parmesan risotto. The servers are always really helpful, so if you’re teetering between different entrees, don’t be shy. Their recommendations are sure to please.

On this particular night, we did the Chef’s wine dinner. There were two specials on the menu in addition to the usual fare. I went with the shrimp fra diavolo, a spicy shrimp pasta dish, and man was it spicy! It had a creamy white sauce (but not alfredo) that had a hint of lemon and was spiced with what must have been a few tablespoons of red pepper flakes. I’m no stranger to spicy foods, but this had a kick. It was delicious. Billy had the Atlantic salmon with wild rice and green beans. The fish was so moist and cooked to perfection. It had a what seemed like a white wine lemon sauce with pine nuts. I might have eaten more of his than I did mine, hehe.

My Shrimp fra Diavolo

My Shrimp fra Diavolo

Billy's Salmon with Wild Rice and Green Beans

Billy's Salmon with Wild Rice and Green Beans

Indigo Crow’s dessert selection usually consists of some items made with seasonal fruits as well as one or two chocolate items to satisfy a sweet tooth such as mine. As you will soon realize, I have an obsession with molten lava cakes. In one word, let me describe the lava cake at the Crow: uh-maz-ing. My mouth is literally watering thinking about it. Get it. I’m not joking.

If you live in the Albuquerque, Rio Rancho area and haven’t yet been to Indigo Crow, I would highly suggest it. It’s a little pricey for a typical night out, but it’s most definitely worth every penny. Visit their Web site to take a look at their menu and make a reservation. You won’t be sorry.

P.S. If you’re a breakfast person, the Crow has an amazing brunch on Sunday’s. Reservations are a must because the place fills up fast. I highly recommend it though.

Check out Indigo Crow on Urban Spoon!
Indigo Crow Cafe on Urbanspoon