The Gift-Worthy Olive Oil We Love the Most

Olive oil has become such a staple in the American pantry that it’s easy to dismiss it as a mundane, everyday ingredient—like salt or milk, it’s just another kitchen item that you reach for without thinking. But the stuff can be quite extraordinary, revealing complex tastes and aromas that make it so much more than just a dressing. At FreshDirect, the olive oil that we turn to when making a statement is our olio novello, or “new oil.” It’s a shining example of traditional artisanship, a respect for the cycles of nature, and the strength of our producer partnerships.

Olio novello first press olive oil FreshDirect

The most important thing to know about olio novello is that it is only available during the last weeks of the of the year, right after the start of the Italian harvest (remember, olives are living crops that fruit according to their own rhythms). This oil is specifically made from olives that are picked early for their flavor, then used to make the first press of the season. This initial run, in which the olives are milled at their freshest under cooler temperatures to prevent heat damage, produces the finest oil with an extra distinctive, ripe taste. Timing is paramount here, because olive oil degrades the longer it sits. Our olio novello goes from the orchards where it originates to our New York facilities in as little as a week, ensuring that it’s still at its most vibrant by the time it reaches you.

Manfredi Barbera FreshDirect Olive OilTo ensure the most consistent quality, we work directly with Manfredi Barbera, whose family has been in the olive business for four generations. The care he and his team puts into growing olives and processing them via traditional methods is evident as soon as you step onto his sun-kissed property in Sicily. Our team has a long-running relationship with Barbera and works closely with him to select olives for our in-house olive oils. The olio novello is made with a custom blend of different varieties to create a unique profile that you won’t find elswhere. 

Because olio novello is left unfiltered, it has a cloudy consistency from the presence of fine olive particles, which amplify the aromas and taste. The scent of grass is evident, along with a pleasant bitterness and full body on the palate. These particles do cause the oil to go stale more quickly than filtered olive oil—another reason why enjoying it fresh is so crucial.

Olive oil in glass bowl and glass carafeUpon trying it, it’s immediately evident just how special olio novello is. That’s why you’ll always find it amongst our recommendations for food gifts during the holiday season. It’s a great all-purpose ingredient that any home cook can use. While we recommend using it to drizzle over or finish dishes (cooking will diminish its character somewhat), it still makes a fine oil for grilling, sautéing, and roasting, particularly as a coating for meats, seafood, and vegetables. Even a light touch will bring out a new depth of flavor.

You’ll only find olio novello on FreshDirect for a few weeks from mid-to-late fall, so act fast and grab yours as soon as you see it. It’s easy to use up while still ultra-fresh. So once you’ve enjoyed your bottle, you’ll be dreaming about it until it comes around again the next year.


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