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The Crazy Olive opened off of Pine Island Road in Cape Coral in January.
The Crazy Olive opened off of Pine Island Road in Cape Coral in January. / Special to The News-Press

The Crazy Olive

1141 Pine Island Road SW, Cape Coral
• Food:★★★☆
• Atmosphere:★★★☆
• Service:★★★☆
• Price: $$-$$$
• Hours: 11 a.m.-close daily
• Call: 673-6999
• Web: thecrazyolive.com
• Noise level: Boisterously moderate at capacity
• Etc.: Full bar, outdoor seating, takeout available, kids menu, daily specials, recommended dessert is the homemade tiramisu.
SAMPLE OF THE MENU
APPETIZERS

• The Crazy Pepper, $7
• Shrimp Bada Bing, $10
• Pesto salad pizza, $10
• Mozzarella moons, $7
• Crab and corn chowder, $4
ENTREES

• Island chicken salad, $11
• Grouper citrus beurre blanc, $22
• Lobster mac & cheese, $14
• Penne vodka rose with meatballs, $14
• 14-ounce rib-eye, $20

More

Along the four-lane stretch of Pine Island Road that slices through north Cape Coral, your dinner options are grim.

Olive Garden, Carrabba’s, Sonny’s, greasy drive-thru fast food. The few independent eateries here tend to have limited menus and even more limited hours.

What’s a hungry person to do at 8:30 on a Monday night when chain fare just won’t suffice?

Enter The Crazy Olive.

The restaurant opened in January in the former Geo’s space in between Skyline and Chiquita boulevards. Managers Hunter Bloch and Mike Slonin moved from Maryland to the Cape to oversee The Crazy Olive’s construction. Their goal: To create an exciting experience for the customer (or so it says on the website, at least).

Exciting may not be the right word, though it’s not far off. Pleasant, comfortable, tasty and unthreatening are my preferred adjectives; which isn’t to say this place is ever boring.

On a weeknight The Crazy Olive is comfortably crowded. Families pile into oversized booths as smokers sip cocktails on the outdoor patio that connects to the full liquor bar.

The cocktail list is divided into two categories: Sweet and sweeter. Those who don’t fancy cake-flavored vodkas will be better served ordering off menu, where simple martinis are served strong and icy with a generous skewer of green olives.

Meals start with a warm loaf of bread, garlic oil and more olives, this time in the form of a chunky tapenade that’s good on just about everything. Most entrees come with salads, the Caesar strewn with anchovy fillets if you so like (I do), and the house made from a base of leafy greens, grape tomatoes, carrots, onions and plump, purple olives of the kalamata variety.

Italian wedding soup brims with greens and tiny meatballs and bits of ditalini pasta that squish softly between your teeth. There are hand-tossed pizzas and calamari and grilled shrimp spiced up with wasabi and Sriracha dipping sauces.

And there is the Crazy Pepper, a pale-green Hungarian pepper stuffed to overflowing with sausage and gorgonzola, then wrapped in the house-made pizza dough and baked till everyone is happy.

There are a handful of signature dishes, and three sections of build-your-own entrees where you start with a seafood, meat or pasta foundation and choose sauces and cooking preparations as desired. The Crazy Olive has sure hands in the kitchen, as capable with a juicy fillet of salmon as they are with a well-marbled rib-eye.

Sides range from the mundane (sautéed squash, lumpy mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli) to the deliciously interesting (whole new potatoes roasted till creamy, then rolled in Parmesan cheese; radicchio grilled to a delightfully bitter char).

Grilled radicchio doesn’t exactly excite me. But a good neighborhood place in an area desperate for good neighborhood places – that’s just crazy enough to work.

Jean Le Boeuf is the nom de plume of a local food lover who dines at The News-Press’ expense. Contact jleboeuf@news-press.com; facebook.com/JeanLeBoeufSWFL or @jeanleboeuf (Twitter).

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