Bleu Olive Restaurant: A Review

A foursome exits the Bleu Olive as we arrive. One of the women says, “That was thee best meal I have EVER had in Branson.” A strong endorsement. Expectations are now pretty high for a delicious dinner. Thankfully, our expectations are not only met, but exceeded.

The Bleu Olive Mediterranean Grille & Bar s a new slant on an old tradition. The Papanika vision was to make the Bleu Olive a reasonably priced, upscale restaurant with some character ambiance and a little panache. A great place to hang out, get dressed up, go and meet friends, enjoy dinner, have a cocktail or two.

Yianni and Sam, both started working in heir family’s restaurant when they were eight years old. Doing prep, busing tables, whatever needed to be done. By thirteen, Sam gravitated toward the kitchen helping his dad prepare meals. When things got too busy, Sam would step aside and let his dad take over. It was the perfect environment for Sam’s talent to flourish. His parents encouraged him to experiment with his culinary creativity. What dish did Sam master first? After a short discussion about baked ziti, beef tenderlion and chicken picatta, the brothers decided, a nice chicken picatta was the winner.

Sam and Yianni’s parents immigrated from Greece, raising their family in Florida, New Jersey and North Carolina. Opening restaurants in all three states, the family still owns two restaurants in Durham. The entire family returns to Greece annually to visit relatives and get inspiration for the restaurants.

Their style of cuisine is contemporary Greek-Mediterranean, meaning a fusion of Greek, Italian, Moroccan, Turkish, and Egyptian influences. Everything on the menu is made fresh at the restaurant. From the Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Torte to the pumpkin cheesecake, all breads, desserts and sauces are made fresh, in house.

Signature dishes Chicken Cordon Bleu Olive and Saganaki Cheese Flambe are already becoming local favorites. Regional farmers deliver some of their bounty right to the Bleu Olive’s door, insuring the freshest produce available. Their menu will have seasonal changes, depending on crop’s availability.

For these two brothers, family comes first. After graduation from the Art Institute of Charlotte, Yianni, put his career on hold to help Sam realize his dream. Sam, and his wife Cleopatra, have a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. Will the children join the family business? “I’m sure they will, but we’ll let them wait until they’re a little older”, Sam said.

The Bleu Olive is located in the Chappy Mall, 204 N. Commercial, across from Regions Bank

Article printed with permission from Both Sides of the Bridge Magazine.

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