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“Familiar ingredients, unique preparations” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Oleana

Oleana
134 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139-1421
617-661-0505
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Ranked #1 of 504 Restaurants in Cambridge
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $41 - $80
Cuisines: International, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Doing business, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Btw. Prospect & Columbia
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
32 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Familiar ingredients, unique preparations”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2013

You may think you recognize a familiar dish by name but chances are you've never had anything like anything on the menu. For a completely unique experience. For a taste you can't get out of your mind. Not an everyday restaurant, but no place better on a warm summer night seated outdoors in this Cambridge oasis.

  • Visited September 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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424 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Level Contributor
30 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Wow.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 29, 2013

We were wandering around Cambridge looking for a place to eat. My wife was coming down with a cold and we just wanted a quick place that might have even decent food. We came across Oleana, obviously highly ranked, and said let's go!

I didn't even know what I was getting in to since she was the one that was doing the quick restaurant research. We got there about 8pm on a Saturday night. Had to wait for about 15min for a bar seat. Highly suggest making reservations if you don't want to eat at the bar. It was packed and there were a lot of people waiting. Luckily we were just two people.

On to the food. WOW. This is the best Turksih/mediterranean food I've ever had. Spices were ultra fresh and across the board the food had some of the most outstanding flavors I've ever had.

We had the saganaki with figs, moussaka, sword fish. All were simply excellent.

It's a small, cozy dining experience. Don't expect this to be a very luxurious dining experience. That's not what they're going for. It's fun, small and delicious. Can't go wrong here. This is a MUST GO when you're in Cambridge.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hoover, Alabama
Level Contributor
85 reviews
53 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Highly rated but it didn't measure up on our visit”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2013

I chose Oleana because it was so highly rated by the paper and other reviewers. We were disappointed. The appetizers were pretty good, but the dinners were just OK. Nothing to brag about. Two of us had fish dishes that were rather bland. One had a daily special that was also poorly seasoned. One asked to have something deleted from a dish (pancetta), and the server came back and said the chef could not accommodate that request. Suggests to me that much of the food is pre-made and then reheated, or that the chef is tempermental. You had to meet the needs of customers who are trying to eat healthier. Service was a little slow. Overall, we paid too much for a meal that was mediocre.

Visited October 2013
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Macungie, Pennsylvania, United States
Level Contributor
306 reviews
255 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
“Can You Give 6 Stars?”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2013

I love small plates rather than entrees and this took it to the next level---with fresh local ingredients. It is small and crowded. It is crowded because it is so good. Servers are great and some how your order comes to you because if you have 8 dishes you may have 8 servers. The kitchen runs well. It seemed like our food came out in pairs. This included the warmed olives with a spice on top. The warming of them brought out flavor. The humus was unbelievable. We also had lamb sliders, a cheese plate, a beef dish and a few others. My daughter topped it off with baked Alaska done in individual portions. We rated one thing average all night---the white bread in the bread tray. The brown bread was outstanding. Two people and 8 dishes and nothing short of excellent!

  • Visited February 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Braintree, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
231 reviews
169 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“Excellent!!! Highly Recommended!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2013

This is the first time I have EVER rated a restaurant 5 star. It is excellent. However, it is not a perfect dining experience and so I will start with who should NOT go here:

1) Do not go if you demand or expect luxury. This is NOT a fine dining establishment. It is very nice and tastefully decorated, it is small, the tables are close together. Parking is limited; there is no valet.

2) Do not go if you are not an adventuresome eater. The food is Turkish-Armenian-Greek-Levantine Arab. It is spiced; it is creatively prepared.

3) Although based on T-A-G-LA cuisines, do not go if you are looking for your Mom's version of classic dishes or home cooking or the stuff you got at a local falafel place. The chefs put an original spin on everything.

I know Middle Eastern food. Lived there for a year; travelled there regularly for 40 years. My wife is an excellent cook of ME origin. Oleana's food is a strong contender against my wife's cooking. We decided to do mezze (appetizer) dishes only. Our table of 3 ordered 8-10 dishes and we were stuffed. Oleana does a twist on the classics. For example, we had the moussaka. Instead of the usual béchamel sauce, it had a green fava bean puree cooked as the top. The Greek olives had zaatar on them. Not sure what was done to the Imam Bayaldi (one of my favorite eggplant dishes), but it was spiced a little differently than I am used to. The falafel was made with spinach added and served on lavash instead of pita. Sarma was not a stuffed vegetable, but a pastry stuffed with grilled green beans. Saganaki was not flamed but warmed and served with dried fruits. Everything was served at the appropriate temp. Service was very attentive and helpful. Waiters explained everything that needed explanation and were not condescending.

I have 2 complaints:
1) The wine list: it seemed most prices were quadruple retail rather than 2-3 times as I usually see them. Worse, the cheaper selections were among the worst. You can get some very good bottles for $9-12 at retail which should translate to $27-36 at a restaurant. I didn't see any of them here. We had a French sparkling rose. We would have preferred a good, cheaper prosecco or cava. (beers were reasonable, by the way)
2) The bread: we got no pita, but rather a variety of thicker breads the consistency of a corn bread. It was not really suitable for eating with the various dips we ordered. This could be improved.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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