The Italian Heritage of Enzo Olive Oil and Enzo’s Table
Nov 27, 2017 11:00AM
By Jordan Venema
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos provided by Enzo’s Olive Oil
Vincenzo Ricchiuti first set foot on U.S. soil in 1914 after emigrating from his native Italy. He began planting figs and grapes, and years later, when his son Pat returned from World War II, they starting P-R Farms, planting stone fruit and almonds.
“Almonds, tree fruit, grapes and all kinds of stuff,” explains Vincent Ricchiuti, Vincenzo’s great-grandson. Then in 2008, “our family made a decision to transition away from stone fruit and grow our almond business, but it was my crazy idea to start the olive oil company,” says Ricchiuti.
For the Clovis native, the move to growing olives made sense. It wasn’t just the Italian heritage or his admitted love for cooking, but it was also a smart business move.
“At the time,” says Ricchiuti, “98 percent of olive oil consumed in the U.S. was imported. We said we’d be happy with a piece of that.”
They did better than just a piece, though. In 2008, Ricchiuti planted their first olive trees and started Enzo Olive Oil.
“My great grandfather, Vincenzo, is who we named the olive oil company after – to bookend my grandfather and myself, since that’s who I’m named after.
“We had our first harvest in November 2011, and since then we’ve won more than 185 awards for taste and quality all over the world. We pride ourselves on making the best product,” adds Ricchiuti.
It’s no accident that Enzo’s tagline is “Italian heritage, California soil.” Though Ricchiuti is a second-generation Clovis resident, both his sets of grandparents emigrated from Italy, and from an area known for olives.
“Puglia, where my dad’s family is from, is the number-one producing olive oil region in Italy. That’s where all the olive trees are.”
And while olive oil at least figuratively runs in his family’s blood, Ricchiuti made sure it was more than just his Italian tradition that is pressing the olives. In 2010, he traveled throughout Italy “and we ended up buying an Italian mill from Puglia, a town 30 minutes south from my father’s family’s hometown.”
Enzo Olive Oil offers a delicate, medium and bold version of extra virgin olive oil, produced from the Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki olives. In addition to their three varietals, they also offer three infused olive oils: Meyer lemon, basil and garlic.
“We actually take the essential oils of those ingredients and add them into the olive oil before bottling,” explains Ricchiuti. “We also have three co-crushed olive oils: clementine, fresh basil and Fresno chili. We take the raw ingredients and crush them with the olives, so while we’re making the oil, we add these ingredients.”
“Plus, all the olives that go into every single one of our bottles is 100 percent organic and estate grown by our family – for better or worse,” adds Ricchiuti, laughing.
In addition to producing quality olive oils, Enzo Olive Oil also has a Clovis-based brick and mortar, Enzo’s Table, that sells local and California grown goods.
“The thought process behind Enzo’s Table,” explains Ricchiuti, “is that everything we sell in the store is something you’d find on our family’s table, from fruit, olive oil and vinegar, to pastas, all of our nuts, almonds and pistachios in every flavor imaginable, and really delicious pickled products. We have our own garden and fruit trees that we’re constantly picking throughout the year and bringing into the store.”
The store also carries Bloody Mary mix, two different pasta brands, granolas and three local coffees. They also have a partnership with Fresno State to sell ice cream, milk and butter, “and we’re the only store other than their farm where you can get their sweet corn,” adds Ricchiuti.
With the hospitality of a real family table, Enzo’s Table also hosts a food truck event every Saturday and Sunday between 11 am and 2:30 pm.
“We have like 10 food trucks that show up in our parking lot for lunch so people can come and get out on our patio, buy some fresh produce in our store, hang out, walk their dog or ride their bike there. It’s become a nice community hub.
“It’s almost like Epcot out there, which is really cool. Every truck is from a different part of the world,” says Ricchiuti. Food trucks include Peruvian, Korean, Mexican and Indian cuisine. “You can bring your whole family, and everybody can get what they want.”
Enzo Olive Oil, Enzo’s Table
1959 N. Willow Ave., Clovis • (559) 298-8290
Monday-Saturday 8:30am-6pm, Sunday 9am-5pm
Find them on Facebook & Instagram