Hidden Gem: Aglio e Olio, a Madison Valley Restaurant

Tucked into a tiny outdoor shopping strip, Aglio e Olio is a Madison Valley restaurant experience unto itself. Inhabiting a former Taco Bell, the feel is cozy, congenial, and not-at-all fussy. 

The wine glasses are small, and thick. Space heaters keep it warm in winter, while convention-center chairs accent the small tables. The lack of ambience is, in itself, the best part of the charm. You don’t come here to be wow’d by the decor. You come for the down home Italian feast.

There’s a menu, but we don’t recommend using it. Instead, give the chef the price you’re willing to pay per person, and he will tell you what you’re hungry for. With a max of $50 per person, you can’t step too far wrong, and rest assured that $50 per person will leave you with leftovers for days. The chef will even try to talk you out of spending that much…he can feed you just fine for $35, thank you very much. What other Madison Valley restaurant will say the same?

At the $50 price point, you’ll start with an overflowing charcuterie board and homemade pickled vegetables. You’ll have a salad, some appetizers, a pasta, a main meat dish, and even dessert. You will be so full you’ll regret your high price point. But then again you won’t, because it is an experience not to be missed.

There’s a wine list, but again, these are really just false choices. Give the house red a try because it’s suspiciously cheap and surprisingly good. Or give the waiter/chef an idea of what you want and let him make the call.

Choose Aglio e Olio when you want a no-fuss, hole-in-the-wall, knock-your-socks-off dining experience, but please – keep the secret just between us.


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