Authentic Greek Fare
Restaurant industry veterans Karim Sopariwalla and Amin Himani have just launched their newest venture, White Olive, serving Mediterranean fusion cuisine in Midtown Manhattan. The menu by Chef Hasan Karci offers up a fresh take on authentic Greek fare; think grilled branzino, lamb chops, grilled octopus and authentic mezze spreads. Named for the rare white olives grown in Greece and southern Italy, White Olive evokes the Mediterranean culture and food that the pair became enamored with while visiting Turkey and Greece. “The balance of spicy and savory is what truly captivated us,” said Himani. “We wanted to take both worlds and create a culinary masterpiece, so we thought of the white olive, which can also be found in coastal areas of northern Africa, Portugal and Malta.” A noteworthy fact about white olives, he added, is that they’re sweeter than green and black olives because of their lower levels of antioxidants—your palate will thank you!
Ritz-Carlton Istanbul-Trained Chef
Chef Hasan Karci, a master of Mediterranean cooking, is an alumna of The Ritz-Carlton Istanbul and now brings the same traditional European- and Asian-inspired flavors to White Olive. “We met Hasan while at The Ritz in Turkey, and we flew him in because we knew right away that he would bring our culinary vision to life,” said Sopariwalla. Karci’s menu features dishes like Lavraki, a char-grilled Mediterranean sea bass known for its light and flaky texture and mildly sweet flavor, baby lamb chops served with fresh seasonal vegetables on a bed of couscous and spicy ezme salad, a house specialty with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, green apples and pomegranates fired up with jalapenos and red peppers.
Highlights of White Olive’s cocktail menu include drinks that pay tribute to the Mediterranean fusion theme. Try the Mangopolitan, made with Bacardi mango, fresh lime juice, mango purée and a hint of cranberry juice, or the Fig and Fabulous, a cocktail-style martini created with Figenza Mediterranean fig-flavored vodka, fresh lime juice and pomegranate juice, garnished with a dried fig.
Contemporary Greek Décor
Seed Design Planning (SEED DBC) Inc, a New York-based interior design firm, created the coolly understated look at White Olive, which has the feel of a chic taverna on a whitewashed Aegean island. “The inspiration behind the décor and color scheme is contemporary Greek style,” said Sopariwalla, who adorned his sandstone walls and white oak floors with cream-colored leather chairs with elegant gold frames. A warm LED-lit wall leads you into the space, which seats 70 for lunch and dinner.
Seed CEO Lesly Zamor is well known in the hospitality industry, having designed prominent hot spots including Donatella Restaurant, TAJ Lounge, Avenue Nightclub, Slate and Penthouse at the Dream Hotel in New York, as well as Lavo Nightclub and Restaurant in Las Vegas.
River Dock Restaurant & Nanking
Karim Sopariwalla and Amin Himani are cousins who grew up in Mumbai, India in homes where cooking was a priority, filled with spices and family. “We have always been foodies; we loved cooking as kids,” said Sopariwalla. “And now we enjoy hosting our friends and our customers.” Himani owns high-end Asian fusion spot River Dock Restaurant and Bar, Seattle Coffee Roasters and Nanking, a vegan-friendly eatery that combines the explosive flavors of India, China and Thailand. Sopariwalla currently owns ZZ Pizza Bar and Grill in Staten Island, where customers are not only raving about the baked-to-perfection crust, but also about the affordable prices. “Customer satisfaction is our number one goal,” Sopariwalla said. The two also own a number of restaurants together, including Seattle Café in Manhattan, and several concessions at NY Waterway stations and grab-and-go operations at five-star hotels, including the Park Lane on Central Park South and M Social in Times Square. After graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a business degree, Sopariwalla joined his cousin’s restaurant organization, and over the past 21 years eventually became a partner and co-owner.
White Olive: Fulfillment of A Dream
Now, they’re thrilled to open White Olive to the dining public. The location, at 39 West 55th Street, is in the center of everything, close to MoMA, Fifth Avenue shopping, Central Park, Carnegie Hall and Rockefeller Center. The space was offered to them by its owner. “They had seen our past performance, and we were lucky to jump onboard,” Sopariwalla said. “We always had a dream of opening an authentic Greek-style restaurant with a modern flare. And that’s exactly what we did.”
For more information, please visit whiteolivesnyc.com.