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Dolly Olive Will Bring Coastal Italian Brunch to Downtown Portland

The latest restaurant from Sesame Collective will focus more on the Italian part of Mediterranean cuisine

The words “coming attractions” are laid over a photo of a restaurant table

The Sesame Collective — which includes Shalom Y’all, Yalla, and Bless Your Heart Burger — tends to focus on the eastern part of the Mediterranean. But with its next venture, the team will look to the northern part of the world’s largest inland sea. Dolly Olive, opening in the space formerly home to Bistro Agnes, will draw influences from Sicily and other parts of Italy, with pastas, fresh-baked breads, and spritzes for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Portland Monthly broke the news of the restaurant’s upcoming opening, which will arrive in spring. Speaking with Eater, co-owners Jamal Hassan and Kasey Mills said that while Dolly Olive wouldn’t be exclusively Italian, it will draw more heavily from that part of the sea than from the eastern parts that the restaurant group is usually known for. “We don’t necessarily want to refer to it as Italian, it’s broader than that,” says Hassan. “We want to keep it open, keep it fun. You may see some Moroccan influence coming into the menu, and islands like Corsica might come into play.” Nevertheless, the dinner menu will feature numerous pasta dishes — though the menu is still in development, diners can look forward to bucatini, spaghetti, and other Italian staples.

Dolly Olive will start with a few weeks of daytime brunch service before it also opens for dinner. Brunch will likewise be influenced by the flavors of Sicily other parts of Italy, and Hassan and Mills say it’s a chance to highlight the work of the Sesame Collective’s head pastry chef, Carrie Ellen — a section of the menu is devoted to items served on bread, like toast with fried eggs and roasted mushrooms, flatbread with cheese and eggs, and lamb meatballs on ciabatta with spicy tomato and mozzarella. Pastries, vegetables and sides, and heartier entrees like egg and polenta dishes with pesto and baked eggs with stewed tomatoes and Italian sausage will round out the menu.

After a few weeks, the team plans to start running dinner service as well; in addition to the pasta made in-house, the menu will include Italian-influenced entrees including a burger, roasted chicken, octopus, and ribeye steaks, though the menu is still being finalized. Those looking for something to drink will find a menu of cocktails including an emphasis on spritzes, as well as a collection of amari. Bryan Tamayo, the current bar manager for Yalla, will run the bar program, while the Sesame Collective’s beverage director Caryn Benke will build a wine list drawing from Southern Italy and similar styles.

Dolly Olive is set to open in spring, and the team is aware of the relevance of opening Downtown. The last few years have seen numerous closures, including all of chef Vitaly Paley’s restaurants, all of restaurateur David Machado restaurants, and many others. Hassan, Mills, and the rest of the team are eager to help revitalize the struggling neighborhood, and while tourism and Downtown business workers are slow to return, the team is optimistic. “We wouldn’t have done this if we thought we’d have to lay our staff off after a few months,” says Hassan. “We’re able to be a part of the solution, to bring some of that energy and love back to [this] part of downtown.”