There’s nothing more satisfying than good food prepared with gusto in a Ben Poremba restaurant: Olio, Elaia, Nixta, or Benevolent King. With two sets of out-of-town visitors recently, I headed one evening to Benevolent King for dinner and a few days later to Olio for lunch.
The food photos below tell the story. The intriguing dishes are the real deal with spices of the Mediterranean region guaranteed to tantalize the taste buds and bring you back for more.
Whether his kitchen domain is a refurbished gas station (Olio), or the 2nd floor of an old, brick, row house (Elaia), a one-time horse stable (Nixta), or a hole-in-the-wall-size space in Maplewood (Benevolent King), Poremba knows how to excite the palate,
Returning home, I often pull out my Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks to see if I can find something similar to what I’ve eaten that I could serve at the farm. But most often I leave the Mediterranean-style cooking to Ben and associates. Though my grandson, Austin, does have a flair for flinging North African spices about the kitchen, roasting vegetables, and concocting tasty sauces.
Olio: 1634 Tower Grove Ave. Open: Sun-Thu 11a-11p; Fri & Sat 11a-midnight.
Benevolent King, 7268 Manchester Rd., Maplewood. Open: Tue-Thu- 5p-11p; Fri-Sat 5p-12a.