Truth be told, what we do is pretty simple. We take heritage breeds of great organic pork and turn it into tasty salami, prosciutti and other cured meats. Granted, each is unique, and Olli is continuously tinkering with spices and flavors to expand our offerings (like our new Pepperoni and Salaminis!), but basically we take pork and make it better. It’s also very satisfying when we hear from a fan that found our products in their local Whole Foods or Williams-Sonoma. We will admit to getting a charge out of packing up a box of Mix and Match and seeing what our customers are picking. “I’d like some Toscano, some Molisana, and Wild Boar for my uncle.”
That being said, it’s always a special treat to travel around and visit a restaurant where a chef has chosen to include us on their menu. These guys and gals are like Olli – visionaries and artisans – but on a whole other level.
“Hmmmm. Beets. Let’s roast them with orange peel!”
“Ooooh! Rabbit! Maybe if we soaked some hazelnuts in red wine and then roasted a leg!”
“Pork shoulder. What can I do with this today?”
We have a few ideas about the pork shoulder, but you get the drift. We get really excited about chefs who are carefully choosing ingredients, matching flavors, and creating unique dishes or original takes on classic cuisines. So it’s an honor when we see an Olli product listed as an ingredient or on a charcuterie board. The really cool thing is that they’re everywhere.
Not too far from our shop in Mechanicsville, Virginia is Tavola in Charlottesville. “Tavola” in Italian loosely translates as “table” and Tavola of Charlottesville is an intimate restaurant in the historic downtown area that is trying to bring classic Italian food to Thomas Jefferson’s home town. They stick to local and artisanal products, and the menu changes with the seasons, always taking advantage of the freshest produce and meats. They do a nice Pan Scotatto Rockfish with oven roasted tomatoes and fennel, and make their own gnocchi with sautéed corn and lemon cream. And they like our pancetta in their Buscatini and Carbonara. In addition to our products, they also buy from a farm right down the road from their restaurant, Polyface Farm. If you’ve not heard of Polyface and Joel Salatin, check them out.
Just south of Charlottesville, in Lynchburg, we sometimes check in with Chef Sean Meeks and the crew at Isabella’s. Chef Meeks has a pretty cosmopolitan Northern Italian menu, with great gluten-free options, which is rare in many Italian restaurants. He’s like the folks at Tavola, in that he’s a huge fan of “fresh and local,” but manages to squeeze in things like a nice Cioppino. Mussels, squid and scallops in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He also does a nice Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola and rosemary vinaigrette. But right in the middle of his antipasti list is the “Olli Salumeria Plate.” He pairs our cured meats with goat cheese from Spring Mill Farm in nearby Concord, Virginia.
If you keep heading south and cross into North Carolina, you may find yourself in Raleigh. Nice town, good music scene, and the home of Ashley Christensen. She’s been in Bon Appétit, Gourmet, is a three-time James Beard finalist, and has appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef. In addition to these great accolades, she’s also built up a nice quartet of restaurants: Poole’s Downtown Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey (Great name), Chuck’s, and Fox Liquor Bar. As one could imagine, Poole’s has clever takes on classic comfort food, Beasley’s is built around Southern Fried Chicken, Chuck’s is her burger joint, and Fox specializes in craft cocktails. Fox also has a pretty nice list of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie. We get to rub shoulders on that menu with some of the best in America. Thank you, Chef Ashley.
It’s a not-so-well-kept secret that we’re opening a second plant in California. When we go, we’ll be certain to visit with the foodies at NaPizza in San Diego. Two dedicated foodies, Giulia and Christopher, mused over a few dinners about the idea of having fast, casual dining that still encouraged healthy eating. They had some experience from their favorite pizzerias in Rome, and knew firsthand the benefits of working in concert with farmers and local vendors to procure the best products. Their vision was an authentic pizzeria with healthy pizzas and salads, and an establishment that could make an impact on sustainability. In March of 2011, NaPizza was born.
At NaPizza, they source local and organic products, serve pizzas that are free of additives, chemicals or preservatives, and even have an in-house nutritionist who helps them to create healthy, balanced dishes. Their operation uses compostable and recyclable to-go packaging, makes full use of composting and recycling bins in the restaurant, and uses all LED lighting. They are a certified Green Restaurant.
So how’s the food? The Bapo pizza has potato, crispy bacon, fresh mozzarella and fresh rosemary. The Natural Angus Salad has red cabbage, organic avocado, golden raisins, and grilled angus tenderloin. You can build a salad with any combination of over 50 fresh vegetables, cheeses, proteins and dressings. You will also, of course, see a variety of Olli Salumeria products sprinkled across the dishes.
Where would you imagine that these restaurateurs developed their passion for Old World authentic Roman style pizzas? We’re pretty certain that Giulia Colmignoli got hers growing up with her brother, Oliviero Colmignoli. He’s our boss.
What’s not to like about that?