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Milo & Olive

Country-side Italian w/ open kitchen

$$

An affordable ($11-30) italian / pizzeria / bakery restaurant with organic meat options in (Santa Monica) with brunch offerings.

Daily: 7am-11pm

310 453-6776

www.miloandolive.com/

2723 Wilshire Blvd.

Review By Rachel B. Levin

To call this diminutive dining room a pizza joint would be grossly reductionist, and yet, in this latest addition to husband-wife team Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan's growing brood of restaurants (which also includes Santa Monica's Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry), pizzas are the main focus. Like at their other ventures, Loeb's produce-driven small plates and Nathan's handcrafted breads and pastries are also abundantly on offer.

The ultra-thin-crust pizzas with chunky edges and seasonal toppings are almost too generously sized (enough for two to share) for the amount of table top you've got at your disposal. Since there are just eight counter seats overlooking the open kitchen and two eight-seat communal tables, competition for chairs (and elbow room) is at a premium. We relished the exquisite summer squash pie, a seasonal garden of zucchini, patty pan squash, sweet corn and red onion flecked with rosemary and Drake Family Farms goat cheese. Instead of being heaped with tomato sauce and mozzarella, the slightly sweet crust was merely painted with olive oil, a light and refreshing option.

But if you're a red sauce fan, there's plenty of tomato goodness to be had on many of the pizzas as well as in dishes. Try the succulent free-range chicken meatballs bathed in roasted tomato sauce (our favorite dish) and flawless ricotta gnocchi robed in tomato sauce and melted mozzarella. You can also lighten up with fresh, superb salads like the loosely composed Coleman lettuces with a scatter of Concorde grapes and toasted hazelnuts or warm marinated white eggplant tossed with spinach, golden raisins, and pine nuts. It's the kind of place where farmers’ market eco-warriors and diehard pizza fanatics will be equally pleased–as long as they can all find a seat.