Olivia introduces dedicated “new oil” menu

Extra virgin olive oil eatery expands its offerings

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November 3, 2017 - 10:06

Extra virgin olive oil is the lifeblood of most any Tuscan dish worth its salt. Yet outside of dedicated tastings—or haphazard drizzling on bread between courses—it’s often overlooked in dining table conversation. At Olivia in the heart of the Oltrarno, however, it’s front and center—a main ingredient rather than solely an enhancer, a way of propping up a dish’s more prominent elements but a silky-smooth star in its own right, too.

Frantoio di Santa Téa extra virgin olive oil

The piazza Pitti locale, which first opened its doors in October 2016, has built an entire menu around extra virgin olive oil. The green gold is supplied by the Gonnelli family, based in Reggello and proprietors of Frantoio di Santa Téa, Italy's oldest oil mill, founded back in 1585. And with the 2017 Olio Nuovo (new oil) season now firmly underway, Olivia has amped up its offerings, now vaunting a dinner menu dedicated to Frantoio di Santa Téa’s new oil, titled “fatti guidare dall’olio” (loosely translated as “let oil lead the way”).  


And lead the way it does, from the first bites of oil-brushed bruschetta to the understated lime semifreddo made with (what else?) extra virgin olive oil and paired with cantuccini di Prato cookies.

"Mayolivia", gourmet mayonnaise made with extra virgin olive oil


While certainly driven by Tuscan tradition, Olivia is hardly bound by it. The first sign of this is its setup—part store, part casual dining restaurant, part educational lab. A laid-back, come-and-go-or-come-and-stay vibe means you can gather a group for a traditional sit-down dining experience, stake out a stool for a glass of wine and some after-work fuel, or pop in to pick up a nice gift on your way to a birthday party (all 14 of Frantoio di Santa Téa’s extra virgin olive oil varieties are up for sale, along with a range of natural cosmetics and other oily goods). All fairly run-of-the-“mill” practices around these parts—but rarely seen or offered in the same setting. The menu, too, makes some subtle diversions from the standards: a tempura codfish is served, for example, with Mayolivia, a gourmet mayonnaise made with extra virgin olive oil and served in a tube.  

Serena Gonnelli, owner, at Olivia


Much of the “fatti guidare dall’olio” menu is a testament to the difference extra virgin olive oil makes in one particular cooking case: frying. An intentional absence of batter and eggs eliminates the typical heaviness and stomach-sticking that often accompanies fried food. Light and airy street food-style bites are menu standouts, with variations according to season and the kitchen’s creative whims. Particularly noteworthy in the current lineup are the ribollita bites, a snack-style twist on the Tuscan classic, and the fried pecorino balls, served with pear preserves.


A year after opening, Olivia continues to be a hub for those interested in one of Tuscany’s most prized products, educating and satisfying down to the last drop.

Piazza Pitti 14r, Florence

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