Exploring Mendoza’s olive oils is no small feat, but checking out the menu at Verolio is a good start. In an area of the world known for laid-back and often downright slow service, Verolio’s cheerful and speedy servers seem out of place, not that we’re complaining. We seated ourselves in the casual café and were greeted within a few seconds.
Repurposed antiques and clean-lined wooden tables and chairs invite diners, and the stark white walls and contemporary accents reflect the modernity of the adjoining Hotel Internacional. Photos of olives and the olive oil process, antiques olive pit strainers repurposed as found art and the selection of local olive oils and olive oil products for sale get the point across: at Verolio, olive oil is the main focus.
We started with the olive oil tasting, 30 pesos for three olive oils from Mendoza, fresh olive oil mayonnaise, black and green tapenades, oil cured dried olives, a mix of green and ripe brined olives, crunchy breadsticks, caramelized onion bread seared with olive oil, and soft white bread – all local of course.
Our server led us through descriptions the olive oils with tasting notes and the olives’ native regions. The mayonnaise tangy and incredible, the olives fruity and fresh, the breads heavenly, and the whole 30 peso ($8) package included a glass of house wine. We chose the Familia Zuccardi sparkler, which did not disappoint.
Our olive oils:
Eliá Arbequina – Manzanilla oil from northern Mendoza, this oil is one of Eliá’s lightest styles with buttery flavors.
Melanario – Nevadillo oil with strong flavors of green apple and raw almond.
Marla Ravida – Full-flavored blend of frantoio and arauco oils, perfect for wood-grilled Argentinean steaks.
On another visit, we tried a few more menu items, and received the same speedy service.
The leek, fontina, and balsamic roasted almond tartine with honey, enticed with aromatic melted leeks and cream overflowing onto the plate. The server topped our tartine and accompanying mesclun salad with Nevadillo olive oil as she delivered the dish. The tart shell, which may or may not have been very lightly sweetened with the aforementioned honey (read on), broke perfectly under our forks, crunchy on the outside and silky on the inside. Gently caramelized leek with fontina rocked our world, especially with Gerónimo Chardonnay, Mendoza, a lightly oaked boutique bottle with a happy dose of tropical notes for only 40 pesos ($10). The only thing missing was the balsamic roasted almonds (and possibly the honey) where were the almonds? Not so dismayed, the tart was delicious without them.
We ordered some snacks from the small-plates menu: a fiambre y queso (cured local meats and cheeses) with preserved vegetables, a warm eggplant tapa with olive oil cured cherry tomatoes, and a goat cheese and arugula pizzette.
The meats and cheeses were freshly cut, good quality and an interesting spread of several selections.
The eggplant with cherry tomatoes turned out to be thin, chewy slices of breaded eggplant with the same peppers from the fiambre y queso board. The pizzettes, served on the same plate as the eggplant, were flatbreads with melted goat cheese, fragrant, mature arugula leaves and more cool shredded cheese. Too cheesy, especially after the spread we’d already consumed. These dishes too, were topped with a drizzle of local olive oil upon delivery.
Verolio is an excellent place to get started sampling Mendoza’s olive oils alongside some delicious dishes and great local wines.