Quality Italian olive oil is right at your fingertips.
About 21 miles southeast of Florence lies Reggello, Italy. The small comune is known as an escape from the city during the summer months, as well as for the Vallombrosa Abbey and Sammezzano Castle. But to locals, it’s also referred to as La Città dell’Olio (the city of oil). “While most towns in that area produce wine, they’ve really become famous for their high-quality, delicious oil. And so if you ask pretty much any Florentine, they’re going to tell you, ‘Oh, where’s the best oil from? It’s from Reggello.’ That’s where you go if you’re a local,” explains Alexa Dombkoski, founder of Bellecento (bellecento.com), the Greater Philadelphia area’s very own luxe olive oil brand. Having grown up about an hour outside of the Main Line, Dombkoski was raised in the restaurant industry—her father was the former owner and operator behind ¡Pasión! in Center City and is currently the general manager at Davio’s King of Prussia. After college, she moved to Italy and started a career in tourism. This eventually led her to Reggello, among other wonderful towns. That was nine years ago. “I had always said I wanted to build a bridge between my two homes: Philadelphia and then my adopted home of Florence, and I was looking for an opportunity,” she explains. And then COVID-19 hit. “I started with the oil [around then]. I did a small trial in the Philadelphia area, and now I have the seasonal oil that comes out every harvest season,” she adds. The secret to her good, quality olive oil drives deep. Derived from a grove on a family estate in Reggello, the olive comes from a quality tree and has a low-acidity profile, which legally can only be at 0.8%—Dombkoski’s Bellecento is well below at 0.18%. “There is a very sort of strict process that these olives are supposed to go through to create this oil,” Dombkoski says. The bottle also pops compared to the others you’ll find lined along shelves thanks to a bright green label and opaque white bottle, which protects the olive oil from oxidizing in the sun. All around, it’s certainly not an olive oil that you keep stored away in your kitchen cabinets but rather one that is presented on the dining room table—perfect for drizzling over pasta, salad dressings or soaking with bread. Buon appetito.