Wild Olive – Makes You Crazy about Food in Charleston

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

It is often said an adventure can lead to an unexpected treasure. John’s Island has a rich tradition of natural beauty, untapped natural preserves and a very illustrious collection of fine restaurants to whet the appetite. Names you may be familiar with include Sweeney’s, Fat Hen, Southern General, Sunrise Bistro Xpress, Seanachai and the soon to be opened Tattooed Moose. One name has defined itself for its warm inviting staff, enriching Italian cuisine and fine wine selection. That is Wild Olive.

Among the list of some of the top restaurants in Charleston, it may surprise some to know that one that lies hidden on Maybank Highway on John’s Island is one of the best dining experiences in the area.
We were welcomed with “Ahoy Mateys” as we entered the restaurant and approached the hostess stand on Tuesday evening. The walls were ordained with crayon portraits from young fans. To our left was the bar area and community table and all around were three sectioned off dining areas to meet any group or intimate couple’s needs.

The wine rack just behind the hostess stand gave us a good indication that the selection offered would entice all our palates.

We chose to sit at the bar, engage in banter with our bartender Chris and enjoy a sampling of entrees and appetizers. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that on Mondays and Tuesdays, Wild Olive offers a selection of red and white wines for $19.00 by the bottle. We took heed of a recommendation from our new friend behind the bar and were very satisfied. A rich bold red with just a hint of spice that lingered along with the undertones of cherry and currant. This complimented what would be a perfect medley of sharable cuisine.

rav3We opened with the Agnolotti stuffed with orange braised duck, ricotta, natural braising sugo, parmesan and scallion. The sauce was mild with an explosion of flavor. The rich thick ravioli style pasta had a juicy texture and a healthy portion of braised duck. We had to admit that the sauce was so good that we scooped up the remainder with our bread. Not classy, but so yummy.

Next we moved from entrée to appetizer. A bit non-traditional but our thought process led us to this path. We ordered the Suppli al telefono risotto fritters stuffed with sausage, spinach, parmesan, mozzarella along with a side dish of smashed fried potatoes with truffled aioli, scallion and parmesan. I must start by saying the fried potatoes took us to another place. This is a must. Regardless of what you order, include this side. It is an explosion of amazement in your mouth. The fritters were perfectly round and quite a filling starter. Don’t get misled by the small size. Each ball is about five fork bites. Don’t try and eat it in one bite. There is too much flavor and you will waste the moment.

We did manage to close the bar and the restaurant, but at no moment did we feel rushed to leave. The staff was truly welcoming from entrance to exit.

Wild Olive is a dining attraction for both Johns Island and Charleston. If you are new to the area or a local that has never experienced this cuisine, we strongly recommend a night out.