It’s not often that someone opens a restaurant as a tribute, but that’s exactly what Green Olive Italian is.
Only a year after their restaurant Garlic Clove Indian opened during Covid, ex-Versace and Kokum chef Merchant Sabir and his wife Dolly have opened their second venue, Green Olive Italian on the western side of Ormeau.
At first glance, Italian is not an obvious choice for an Indian born and raised chef, however there’s a story behind each plate that I’m sure you’ll appreciate.
“After completing my chef apprenticeship at Taj Hotels, the most prestigious worldwide chain of hotels based in India, I decided to travel so that I could increase my culinary skills,” Chef Merchant explains.
He decided to come to Australia.
“I was 19 years old. My father gave me $1,000 as a startup fund, but I had no job and no friends in Australia. I could read and write some English but couldn’t speak the language at all,” Sabir says.
After many unsuccessful job applications, on a whim, the owner of Camelot Pizza agreed to give him a trial in the kitchen. It was his first time working in a pizza shop, thrown headlong into the frenetic action of pizza making. Fresh produce arrived every morning and every day they made their dough in readiness for the nightly rush. Shown how to cook pizza, Sabir was a quick learner and fast and a skilled worker.
“I rode a bicycle the 4km from my granny flat to work, balancing my daily free pizza (my only meal for the day) in one hand on the way home as I rode, using the journey to memorise skills and recipes I’d learned. I was going to TAFE doing Certificate III in Hospitality, researching recipes and sometimes I stayed longer in the kitchen (working for free) so that I could learn more,” he says.
“My time at Camelot Pizza provided me with a start in a new country, and before long I had made friends, established myself, and my English had improved.”
Chef Merchant’s knowledge of Italian cuisine expanded when, just over a year later, he worked at Andiamo’s in Conrad Jupiter’s Casino (now The Star), refined even further during his three years at Palazzo Versace under Head Chef Steve Szabo.
Insatiably curious, Sabir’s thirst for knowledge also led him to realise the importance of Italian food to the Australian public as our favourite non-Asian cuisine.
Sabir and his wife Dolly chose the growth suburb of Ormeau to open their restaurants, Garlic Clove Indian bringing us the food of their homeland, and Green Olive Italian a tribute to the cuisine that marked the start of his Australian experience. Both restaurants are sited close to the highway in small suburban shopping centres off major thoroughfares.
“We’re finding that our two businesses bring customers to each other,” Sabir tells us, the bonus being that while they draw diners from the same local area, their different but complementary cuisines mean that they are not competing for business.
While pizza will always be a crowd favourite, we urge you to try both pasta and main courses at Green Olive. With quality ingredients and all food handmade, our favourites so far are the Pork Saltimbocca, Slow-cooked beef ragu with handmade gluten-free gnocchi, Chicken breast with lemon caper sauce and Seafood marinara.
There is so much deliciousness at Green Olive Italian; tasty, generous portions of great Italian food at very keen prices. While the service is charming, it is owners Dolly and Sabir whose smiling graciousness make this such a gem of a place.
What do we feel like eating tonight? Italian or Indian? If so, we can tell you a couple of restaurants that northern Gold Coast residents should definitely travel to dine at.
Green Olive Italian, 29 Peachey Rd, Ormeau Ph: 07 5546 7025
Open: Thurs – Sun 12noon – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm; Mon, Wed 5pm – 10pm
NOTE: Fully licensed, with BYO wine only. Good Food Gold Coast was a guest of Green Olive Italian on one occasion.