Restaurant review: Blue Olive at Hey Hey is a solid option

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

For about two years, Hey Hey Bar & Grill has played host to a revolving door of popular food trucks exploring brick-and-mortar options. First it was The Coop who, after a great little run, flew its own ... you know. Then terrific Swoop! set up shop as Bebe, but unfortunately was not to be long-lived either. Apparently it’s “next truck up” at Hey Hey, as I recently checked out Italian-leaning Blu Olive’s new operation.

It’s seat-yourself in disarmingly dive-y Hey Hey. Beware that sometimes it’s also wave down a busy waiter when you catch one walking by. After securing one, you can take advantage of a good bottled beer list, or drafts such as Bell’s amiable Best Brown ale($6).

Blu Olive’s little menu features a few sandwiches, small plates, pastas and salads. On the night I visited, its theme was apparently “Things go better with lemon.”

The yellow fruit was prevalent in a coarse, fresh and pleasant hummus ($6) served with toasted pita triangles. Lemon was also present in the housemade dressing of a huge Caesar Salad ($5). I liked its size and the anchovy jolt from its creamy-yet-not-heavy dressing, but I would’ve liked more garlic and bolder flavors overall.

A Grilled Salmon entree was the night’s best value. Atop a heaping mound of penne tossed with inordinately shy arugula-and-walnut pesto sauce was a large piece of fish. Decorating the salmon was a bright aioli that was delightfully … lemony.

The most unexpected lemon accents arrived in the guise of a Meatball Sandwich ($9; served with good tomato and basil potato chips made by OH! Chips). Plopped onto soft and fresh toasted focaccia layered with blistered provolone and perky marinara sauce, the tender meatballs bore sear marks, and were delicious on their own. By this I mean I thought the lemon got in the way of their fine meatball flavor — if not in a deal-breaking manner.

The only non-lemon item I tried that night was the Three Cheese Ravioli ($6). In a nod to old-school Italian-American preparations, the comforting pasta pockets with creamy cheese fillings were swamped in a bright yet rich tomato sauce enlivened by garlic and oregano.

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Blu Olive at Hey Hey Bar & Grill

361 E. Whittier St., German Village