Bella Oliva Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom
Olive oil shops are seemingly everywhere nowadays, and it’s easy to assume they’re all pretty much the same. Being of the type that will stop into any one I happen to come across, I was absolutely beginning to feel this way. And, to be honest, my opinion was not particularly high. Sure, these are generally fun places to shop, and their balsamic vinegars can be outstanding, but the oils themselves tend to be flat and disappointing.
My opinion quickly changed upon visiting Wayne’s Bella Oliva. Firstly, owner Stephanie Vauclain informed me that she chose distributor Veronica Foods to supply the oils. The problem, generally, with these oil shops, is that the oil is supplied by a third party. Because of this lack of direct contact with the oil makers themselves, it’s difficult for shop owners to guarantee the authenticity and provenance of their oils (fraud is prevalent in the industry). That’s where Veronica comes in. Profiled in Tom Mueller’s authoritative book on the subject, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, Veronica Foods is an industry leader in quality oil, putting any they sell through rigorous testing before it is sold. This is evidenced by the level of information provided to the Bella Oliva shopper: polyphenol levels, acidity levels, Organoleptic Taste Panel Assessment scores, etc. Though this information is probably more than the average shopper needs, its availability demonstrates Veronica’s commitment.
Aside from all that mumbo jumbo, the oils speak for themselves. They are, simply, outstanding. Most notably, alive. Fresh, pungent. Tear-inducing. This is authentic extra virgin, friends, and it is within your grasp. At $17-20 for a 375ml bottle, it’s also reasonably priced. Sure, it is tempting to just pick up a bottle at the supermarket. One-stop shopping. And that’s fine for everyday cooking, but when it comes to dipping your bread or finishing your gourmet creations, you will taste the difference.
I sipped and slurped through all of the non-flavored Extra Virgins Bella Oliva had to offer (I try to avoid flavor-infused oils as the flavoring can be artificial and can mask oil flaws), and they were all outstanding. Because the oils change seasonally – freshness being tantamount to quality in EVOO – I won’t comment on any specific oil, but instead will encourage you to get over to Bella Oliva whenever you can and taste for yourself. You can thank me later.
Bella Oliva Taproom
113 W. Lancaster Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087