OLILO acts as delicious, yet healthy alternative

Chris DiMeo

Say goodbye to the “Freshman 15,” and say hello to OLILO!

This self-described “Mediterranean-branded Menu Concept” is a healthy eating alternative new to the Garrett Food Court on campus. Literally stuck between pizza and burgers, it offers a welcome relief from the domination of fast food in its flatbread or salad bowls loaded up with quinoa, humus, kale, falafel and more.

The menu is designed by Cat Cora, inductee of Culinary Hall of Fame and the first and only female Iron Chef, and features fresh, Mediterranean-inspired “power foods” chosen for their great nutritional value but low calorie content.

For example, one of the most popular ingredients on the menu is the Tzatziki sauce, a creamy, Greek-inspired dip based on yogurt. Even though it is shockingly delicious, it only contains around 20 calories per ounce.

Customers can also choose either flatbread or a spinach and quinoa mix as the base for their dish, with the spinach being the lighter alternative at only approximately 15 calories per 1.5 ounces. For those looking to minimize calories, a well-rounded and satisfying order of a spinach bowl with quinoa, Tzatziki sauce, Feta cheese and humus and it will contain as little as less than 200 calories.

Additionally, all of the meat and vegetable ingredients are made fresh daily on site, which is easily visible in the food. The spinach leaves are appetizingly green, and the sauces add pops of color, both of which helped to give it the kind of mouth watering appearance that only appear on commercials with fake food.

And the taste doesn’t disappoint, either. The falafels, though somewhat deformed, have a great texture combination of a crunchy exterior and a soft, warm inside. The other toppings, which are meant to be mixed in with the greens almost like a salad dressing, added a fantastic array of flavors without overwhelming the freshness of the spinach and quinoa.

However, this unique eating experience comes at a price. While the food is great for its cost, the restaurant’s atmosphere falls far short of the “calming, rustic at-home cooking vibe” promised by the Aramark website.

Because of its location on a half of a counter between Grille Works and Papa Johns, the line and ordering spaces are loud, cramped and incredibly hot, which is more stressful than “calming.”

In addition, the customer experience is confusing because the sign and ingredients are not adequately labeled. Customers who have eaten at OLILO before know that the dishes are made of a spinach and quinoa bowl or flatbread with a “spread,” two “toppings,” a sauce and an extra, such as falafels or grilled lemon chicken.

Unfortunately for the many first time customers, though, the menu sign is composed of the ingredients in each category simply listed next to each other in unmarked columns, with no explanation of how they combine.

This, as well as the extra time required to maintain fresh ingredients, contributes to a significantly slower-moving line than any other dining option in the food court.

The lapse in labeling can also be problematic for those who are closely counting calories, as there is no nutritional information on the ingredients available to customers. Without knowing which options contain the least calories, for example, those on a diet would not realize that the spinach and quinoa bowl option contains only 15 calories, while the 3.5-ounce flatbread option contains 300 calories.

Ultimately, whether or not the stressful and confusing ordering experience outweighs the great taste, nutritional value and low price of the food all depends on the individual. For those who enjoy foods like kale and quinoa, and who value nutrition above most else, the amazing food negates the disappointing process of obtaining it. However, for anyone else, it’s probably not worth the effort.

Despite its niche appeal, the one thing everyone can agree on is that OLILO provides a much-needed fresh and healthy dining option on campus.