The MBA Welcomes Oliva Dolce
Moorestown’s Newest Shop Brings the World of Olive Oil to Main Street
The one thing that Bob Cascone insists upon in his new store on Main Street is quality. The genial owner of Oliva Dolce won’t settle for anything less than the best olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and other condiments sourced from around the world. It is his mission to educate customers and make them aware of the difference between the carefully chosen items in his store versus mass marketed brands and products with ambiguous composition. The delicious difference is obvious in every sample he offers.
After the public discovered the health benefits of cooking with olive oil, it became a standard home pantry item—but most people aren’t aware of the quality spectrum of this staple. A number of brands in the marketplace are actually blends of olive oil with less expensive products like corn oil. Others are improperly bottled in clear containers that speed deterioration, and most don’t disclose “consume by” dates. “Many people also aren’t aware that olive oil production is seasonal, and that flavors differ depending on the place of origin and harvest times—just like wine,” explains Cascone.
It was a gift of quality olive oil from a family member that sparked Cascone’s interest in exploring the boutique olive oil and vinegar field. The former mechanical engineer was ready to retire, but his passion for these products led him to a serious hobby that has become a second career. He opened his first olive oil store in Collingswood in 2012, which was followed by a second location in Bordentown, now operated by his son-in-law and daughter. After much research, Bob selected family-owned Veronica Foods as his sole vendor for his oils and vinegars. “Their devotion to quality is unsurpassed,” he says. “They are very demanding about the products they sell and their standards far exceed the norm.”
Olive oil is produced in various areas of the world and, depending on the climate, at different times of the year. The best olive oils available on the market come from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Tunisia, and California. “The main things to look for in an olive oil are the crush date and the chemistry, which is determined by lab testing,” says Bob. “Olive oil should be consumed within two years of the crush date. Like any other ‘fruit juice’, it will eventually spoil.”
The chemistry proves the quality of the batch, which influences its health benefits and flavor. For instance, polyphenols (which provide antioxidants and a spicy ‘bite’) are highest in a young crop, whereas a late harvest yields a larger quantity of lower quality oil. Oliva Dolce only sells oils less than one year old, and Cascone encourages customers to only buy what they think they will use in the next six months. He offers extra virgin olive oils that range from smooth to robust, and a variety of flavored oils for specialty uses, including olive wood smoked, wild mushroom and sage, cayenne chile, and blood orange (see recipe below).
Balsamic vinegars from Modena are Oliva Dolce’s other specialty, in a wide range of flavors like peach, blackberry and ginger, dark chocolate, cinnamon pear, and the dense, sweet Denissimo that is good on just about anything. Bob recently traveled to Modena and toured the facility that produces his balsamic vinegars. “The process behind balsamic vinegar is another world that people don’t really know about,” he notes. “There is a complex procedure that involves aging of the grapes and their terroir, which are key elements of the final product.”
Oliva Dolce is managed by Moorestown native Katie Sklarow, who also runs her own catering business (Saving Thyme) and teaches Moorestown Parks & Recreation’s popular children’s culinary classes. Sklarow and Cascone are planning tasting events and demonstrations, including partnering with neighboring LaDiDa boutique for a ‘ladies night out’ of shopping and creative oil and vinegar based food and drink samples on February 9 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Cascone is also planning some seasonal pop-up shops to increase awareness and appreciation for top quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
In addition to the more than 40 flavors of oils and vinegars on the shelves, the store also sells specialized food products like truffle pesto, hazelnut cream, Sicilian black fig jam, and a pepper and eggplant puree. Shoppers can create personalized gift baskets of any size, making it the perfect destination for any gift-giving occasion. But it is the cultivation of customers shopping for their own consumption that interests Cascone the most. “Once people recognize what a difference top quality olive oils and vinegars make in their cooking, they won’t ever turn back.”
Since its opening late last year, Oliva Dolce has already made an impact by embracing the community, supporting local causes and activities, and engaging in town events and cross-promotions. The MBA is excited to welcome Oliva Dolce to Main Street as a dynamic addition to the township’s retail scene, and applauds Cascone for introducing a unique product line that entices shoppers to Moorestown.
BLOOD ORANGE OLIVE OIL SCONES
1 Tbs. Blood Orange Olive Oil
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk or almond milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 mini chocolate chips or dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a baking sheet.
In a small mixing bowl, blend the first 5 ingredients with a fork until well mixed. Combine the milk and vanilla and slowly stir in until mixture becomes a dough. Fold in the chocolate chips or cranberries.
Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet and bake approximately 20 minutes, or until lightly brown.