Caseus Morphs Into Olmo

Thomas Breen photoTamales made with fermented pork sausage and farina. Coal-roasted vegetables served with housemade ricotta. A 32-ounce dry-aged ribeye steak.

Oh yeah, and one-dollar bagels, baked in house every morning and available seven days a week.

Those are a few selections from the eclectic menu of Olmo, the new restaurant, catering service, and take-out spot that will replace the recently closed Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro at the corner of Trumbull Street and Whitney avenue downtown.

The restaurant takes its name from the Italian word for elm tree.

“We’re trying to establish ourselves as part of the Elm City community,” said Tessa Cooney, the general manager of the new restaurant and the former manager and beer buyer for Caseus.

“We’re also taking some Italian inspiration, not overwhelmingly so on the menu, but just the idea of fresh and simple ingredients, handmade pastas, handmade breads and bagels.”

Cooney and Olmo head chefs and co-owners Craig Hutchinson and Alex Lishchynsky said they plan on opening the new, Italian-inspired restaurant on Oct. 10.

Hutchinson and Lishchynsky co-own the new restaurant with former Caseus owner Jason Sobocinski.

In the meantime, as they finish remodeling Caseus’s old 93 Whitney Ave. space, the team behind Olmo has published a website with a detailed menu that lists the dozens of new dishes they plan on serving for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week.

“We’re trying to stretch the definition of comfort food,” Hutchinson said about some of the more recognizable fare on Olmo’s menu, like tamales, fish and chips, and spaghetti and meatballs. “It makes sense when you put it into your mouth. It makes sense the way you read it on the menu. But the technique that we use in order to deliver that is nothing like” traditional comfort food.

Before the two landed jobs in Caseus’s kitchen a few years ago, both honed their respective culinary skills while working in some of the most prestigious fine dining restaurants in Boston and New York.

With Olmo, the two head chefs said they want to bring their experience and expertise working with detailed recipes, in-depth ingredients, and meticulous culinary standards to food that is more accessible than that at most four-star restaurants.

“If we aren’t as serious about our bagels as we are about our 32-ounce dry-aged ribeye,” Hutchinson said, “people are going to hold us to that.”

The menu is broken out into four broad categories: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch.

Olmo Kitchen photoHutchinson said that the restaurant’s downstairs takeout shop, which will be located in the same place where Caseus’s cheese shop once stood, will serve freshly baked bagels, coffee, and other baked goods from 7:30 to 10:30 every morning.

“Then we’ll start rolling out sandwiches into our grab-and-go case,” Hutchinson said. Those sandwich offerings will include a cheddar-broccoli melt with roasted garlic and peppers, an eggplant cutlet sandwich with hummus and mint, and an “island style” pork sandwich with roasted onions, cilantro, and chili mayonnaise.

The Olmo team held a pop-up lunch hour at the DISTRICT in Fair Haven on Wednesday. Lishchynsky said they served food to 100 customers over the course of the hour. Sixty of those customers ordered the island pork sandwich, which includes pork shoulder that is marinated in orange juice, lemon juice, and lime juice for 36 hours.

Also on the take-out lunch menu are over a dozen salads and handmade pastas, including traditional Italian fare like bucatini cacio e pepe. Lunch, Hutchinson said, will be served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Thomas Breen photoThe dinner menu also includes some familiar Italian-inspired items, like spaghetti and meatballs with anchovy and parmigiano. But this isn’t any old spaghetti and meatballs. Lishchynsky, who comes from a large Italian family in North Carolina, said that the restaurant’s spaghetti and meatballs with “nanny’s sauce” comes from a recipe that has been in his family for four generations.

“My grandmother married into the family,” he said, “and, as the only non-Italian, she had to perfect all the recipes so she could make it in a family of 64 Italians. It’s all about the process and the love that goes into making that sauce.”

Cooney said that Olmo’s dinner service, which will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, will not only be distinguished by its menu’s unique blend of Italian-inspired dishes.

She said Olmo will also be experimenting with a “send-when-ready” style of hospitality whereby the kitchen and the wait staff will help guide customers’ through the menu.

“You’re picking and choosing,” she said, “guided by the server to go through the menu and being able to taste a lot of different things on there, and then letting the kitchen decide the best way that they should be presented to you. That allows us to take that off your hands to really figure out the best way that we think you’re going to enjoy the meal.”

Hutchinson said that Cooney and the chefs will act as conductors in front of the symphony that is the dining room.

“We all want different things,” he said. “But we got you. Sit back. Relax. Olmo will take care of you.”

They said the centerpiece of the restaurant’s dining area will be a 16-person communal table, while the room where the bread and pasta are made each morning will also be available as a private dining room.

On Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the restaurant will provide a brunch menu, serving pancakes, French toast, bagels with lox, and omelets. The website also notes that Olmo will have a catering service with breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.

“We’re keeping the same core values as we had at Caseus,” Cooney said. “Care of the community, hospitality, quality fresh ingredients. But we’re also trying something new.”

Learn more about Olmo, which opens on Oct. 10, at https://olmokitchen.com/.

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posted by: Bill Saunders on September 13, 2018  3:38pm

Sounds Fantastic!

posted by: Five Fifths on September 13, 2018  8:07pm

Sign me up for the thirteen dollar tamale.

posted by: robn on September 14, 2018  7:27am

You got me with the first sentence Tom.

posted by: Stylo on September 14, 2018  8:43am

While I’ll deeply miss Caseus…

Yes please.

posted by: ShadowBoxer on September 14, 2018  10:43am

Love the elm leaf design!  Smart.  Wallace Stevens would love it too. Negative and positive space.  Very Zen.