After hearing rave reviews about Fat Olives from staff at the Arizona Visitor's Center, we finally decided to give one of Flagstaff's few Italian options a try. After trying out several poor Italian restaurants in Northern Arizona, we were not sure what to expect.
Unfortunately, aside from a few good happy hour deals, Fat Olives really is nothing special. Fat Olives was a noisy place with inexperienced servers, and definitely did not provide the authentic, classy Italian dining experience which we were seeking.
Fat Olives has the smallest menu I have ever seen at an Italian restaurant, consisting mostly of specialty pizzas and very few pasta dishes. This was very disappointing as we were looking forward to trying some great ravioli.
Although the happy hour deals (4-7pm everyday) are pretty decent ($6-7 for pizzas), the normal menu pricing is overpriced for what you get: okay pizzas, underwhelming service, and a bar like setting.
While the Margherita Pizza was decent, the Marinara pizza (a cheeseless pizza with marinara, garlic, and oregano) was completely dried out and a bit burnt. We had to get a side of marinara sauce just to make it a normal pizza.
The appetizer menu is not at all attractive. We had a hard time figuring out anything that looked appetizing. We ended up going with the Stracciatella (fresh mozzarella, sweet cream, and ricotta blended into a cheese dip and served with mini pieces of bread). The app was small and not all that good honestly.
For some reason we were not offered any bread and olive oil as is customary at Italian restaurants, which was a bit strange.
Service was mediocre: inattentive and a bit inexperienced. Most of the waitstaff seemed to be college students who do not take their job seriously, which is disappointing as Fat Olives should be one of the nicer choices in town compared to the overabundance of casual/counter service establishments.
The setting inside Fat Olives is a bit too casual for my liking. For once in this area, I was hoping to find a classic Italian dining experience. It was very noisy (late afternoon) and cramped, and almost felt more bar like in attitude and service than like a real restaurant. We also were not a fan of the blaring pop music in the background. How about some nice soft Sinatra type music?
The mediocre pizza, lack of attention to detail, and hiring of disinterested staff made the Fat Olives dining experience truly a disappointment.
The number of quality Italian dining options is severely limited in this area, so Fat Olives may be your only choice if you want something a step above a casual pizza joint. Outside of happy hours, the restaurant is not really worth your time.
A new and improved menu (including more pasta dishes and better appetizers), more experienced & dedicated staff, and better music in the background, are a few suggestions for Fat Olives to improve their restaurant.