Although The Hive in Laguna Beach’s Canyon may seem to be slumbering, rest assured – there are still a couple worker bees buzzing in that hive.
Laguna Beach Beer Company is still open seven days a week with significant beer sales occurring daily. Their food menu is also available Wednesday through Sunday.
McClain Cellars is temporarily shuttered but continues to offer specials and wine deliveries through its online store.
And, Chef Erik De Marchi’s Oliver’s Osteria is not only the only open food-wine-and-cocktails restaurant in The Hive, but is the last authentic Italian restaurant left standing in the entirety of Laguna Beach. Every one of his peers has temporarily shuttered.
“I started working in my family’s restaurant as a kid in Italy when I was six years old,” said Chef Erik. “Aside from the fact that I wouldn’t know what to do with my days if I closed at this time, I have a wife and two kids to support. There’s no other choice but to keep going.”
Chef Erik’s resolve is our win.
Since his opening in the old Ivory’s space in October 2018, Oliver’s Osteria has won rare acclaim from the region’s toughest food critics.
He claims it’s all because of the daily-made pasta. I think it might also have to do with his absolutely superb sauces, seafoods, meats and house-made pastries, the latter of which he devoted many additional months to perfecting while in the prestigious Culinary Academy of Emilia-Romagna at the start of his career.
“I don’t have the space in this kitchen to have a separate pastry section, but I do make all of our breads and desserts inhouse,” he notes.
30+ Single Serving Options for Lunch & Dinner
One of the few restaurants in Laguna open for both lunch and dinner to-go, Oliver’s serves up a significant number of salads, antipasto, house-made pasta dishes, fish, veal, chicken and dry-aged filet mignon.
“I brought the menu down in size because I wanted to make sure we could still provide the freshest, highest-quality products,” Chef Erick says apologetically.
I’m not sure what he’s apologizing for. His lunch menu boasts more than 30 items and his dinner menu more than 40. And, even with a smaller menu for Oliver’s to-go times, the desserts are still featured and selling quite well. (Panna Cotta with berry jam is my favorite.)
Chef’s best sellers in this time of COVID?
“Everyone seems to love pasta, especially the Lasagne, says Chef Erick. “… And our Beef Meatballs stuffed with Fontina cheese,” he says after a moment’s thought.
When the dinner bells rings, the Branzino Al Sale, European-style Sea Bass baked in a bed of sea salt, fresh herbs, olive oil and lemon, is Oliver’s best-selling protein. Small wonder as this beauty arrives at your door in steamy, flaky perfection.
Family Platters for 5 or 10, Too
A couple weeks ago, Chef Erick added Family Platters to the menu, with options for five or 10 people (hey, those teenagers of yours eat for three, just admit it.). They’ve proven a popular business from the start.
“Italians love to gather their families around a table,” said Chef Erick. “It’s the biggest moment of their day. So, I hope our platters help our clients do the same. Right now, we all need family more than anything.”
From Established Restaurant Family to New Laguna Family
As noted, Chef Erick was raised in his family’s two restaurants, learning how to knead pasta with his Grandmother in the restaurants’ kitchens.
After completing Culinary Academy in 2002, his mentor noted that one of the all-time great Italian chefs, Gino Angelini, was opening a new restaurant in L.A., Angelini Osteria.
Chef Erick jammed to L.A. to work for 6 months, returned to Italy after his visa expired, and was happily offered permanent employment by Chef Gino just weeks later.
Erick worked for Chef Gino for more than five years at both Angelini and Via Venuto before deciding to open an osteria (defined as: great wine + simple food) of his own.
“My wife and I would come down to Laguna Beach to visit, and we looked for months before this opportunity showed itself,” he said.
As fate would have it, on the day of his first restaurant’s opening, his son, Oliver, was born. “I had the signage and the website and the business cards printed and we were all ready to open that night under a completely different restaurant name,” said Erick.
“And that day, I changed it to my son’s name, Oliver,” he said. “I didn’t care what it cost. I threw out all the business cards, I re-applied for a new sign, we reprinted all the menus … it just had to be.
“You can’t have your first son born on the same day your first restaurant is born and not honor that. This is what families do.”
Specials For Oliver’s Laguna Family
- During these to-go times, Chef Erick has put a few specials in play:
- 20% off lunch orders, seven days a week.
- 30% off all wine bottles under $400.
- Pick-up curbside for 15% savings. Utilize DoorDash, GrubHub or UberEats within a 7-mile radius.
- Oliver’s will deliver free within a 15-mile radius.
- Or, for an added 10% of the gross for the delivery charge, Oliver’s Osteria will deliver personally in a 15-mile range. Click to go to Oliver’s Osteria’s website to order.