The Olive & The Stone is a family-run business. Its name is a nod to the traditional, old-time process of making olive oil by pressing the olives between two stones. The store offers more than 50 varieties of oils and vinegars and is built on a “tasting bar” concept. Customers may stop in and taste any (or all!) of the varieties so they are sure to love the products they buy.
Owners Lori and John Tumminello have always had a love for dipping bread in quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Over the past few years they have watched the concept of tasting bars rise and have sought them out where they might be. In September 2015 they opened their own store located on bustling Main Street in Chester, New Jersey. They chose Veronica Foods Co. in Oakland, California as their oil and vinegar importer because of their reputation in the industry and high standard for product excellence. (Read more about them below.) John has been to their facility in California, met with their staff and attended training seminars about the industry.
All of the oils and vinegars at The Olive & The Stone are supplied by Veronica Foods in Oakland, California, whose name is on the back of every bottle.
Veronica Foods Company was founded in New York City in 1924 by Italian immigrant Salvatore Esposito. The Delizia olive oil brand was transferred from Naples, Italy and registered in the United States in the same year.
The Esposito family, which had grown to include four sons and two daughters, moved west to Oakland, California, in the late 1930’s with hopes of building the first olive oil mill in the United States. Those plans were put on indefinite hold when three of the four Esposito sons joined the military at the beginning of WWII. The direction of the business remained the same under the capable hands of the eldest son Anthony Esposito. The olive oil portion of the business continued to exist as a remnant of an honored family tradition, accounting for less than six-tenths of one percent of company’s business during the mid 80's.
In the late 80’s the company took a renewed interest in olive oil as a viable business, and not just to honor a point of family history. Olive oil selection and understanding had always been the exclusive province of Anthony Esposito until his retirement in 1989 when the third generation stepped up to head the Company.
Veronica (granddaughter of the original founder Salvatore Esposito) now CEO, and her husband, Michael Bradley in the president’s office, were faced with a decision: either abandon or sell off the tiny olive oil portion of the business, or become involved in a more committed and serious way. They were forced to admit that they knew very little about the subject and would have to learn from scratch if they were to continue. It was a fateful decision that changed their goal for the company, which evolved into the quest to identify and bring to market the finest examples of olive oil in the world at prices that Veronica and Michael found sane and affordable.
The Bradleys needed to develop a new more practical understanding of olive oil that placed a greater emphasis on application and performance and less on appellation or domain. They focused on the discernible differences in flavor, function, and durability by tasting and comparing oils from different regions and countries without the benefit or handicap of knowing where the oils were produced. Veronica and Michael found a treasure trove of styles and varieties unknown outside the local area where they were produced and reigned supreme. In a very short time they became obsessed with olive oil.
Over the last few years, the Bradleys have tasted, and continue to taste on a daily basis, the best oils that they can find from Chile, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, California, Cypress, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Syria and Tunisia. They celebrate the diversity and difference in olive oil styles. In their travels they have found there is no mill anywhere in the world that does not sincerely believe, when conditions are just, right they alone produce the finest olive oil in the world. The proverbial five thousand year old book on olive oil is still being written, and in some cases rewritten.
In 1997 Veronica and Michael purchased an olive grove less than sixty nautical miles from Sicily near the ancient Mediterranean city of Carthage in the North African country of Tunisia to build an olive oil mill for testing and evaluating the methods that they chronicled in their extensive travels throughout the olive oil producing regions of the world. In October of 1998, Veronica Foods Company, with its Tunisian partner Medgold, completed the construction of a state-of-the-art crushing mill and nitrogen flushed storage facility.
Veronica and Michael continues to produce the finest conventional olive oil, organic olive oil and fused whole fruit citrus olive oils in their mill near the coastal town of Monastir, Tunisia. As producers of olive oil they have formed exclusive international alliances with small regional mills that lack the experience and capital to open and develop markets in the United States. The Bradleys are proud to present many varieties from small regional mills for the very first time in the United States. They see themselves as part of a growing family of small but efficient producers whose extra virgin olive oil is finding its way into the homes of Americans.
Veronica Foods imports more than one million gallons of the finest, freshest extra virgin olive oil every year. We invite you to join us in experiencing the rewards of this endeavor.