The truth about Olive oil: a guide to purchasing Olive oil

The truth about Olive oil: a guide to purchasing Olive oil

We have all heard the fabulous benefits of extra-virgin olive oil but purchasing this in Sri-Lanka can be a tedious mission –  it is often inconsistent and also quite costly (due to import taxes). In addition to this, there have been numerous global scandals over the last few years about the purity of ‘Extra-virgin Olive oil’ as most of the olive oils in the market have been mixed with seed oils.

How to Purchase Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

In order to become more ‘Olive oil-savvy’, it will help you to understand the different types of olive-based oil available: extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, olive oil, pure olive oil, light olive oil, and Olive-pomace.
Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil. It should not smell moldy or fermented.
Olive oil
Anything with the words ‘pure’, ‘light’ or simply, ‘olive oil’ are those which have been refined at some point.  Refining is a complex process that involves the use of acids, alkalis, steam and other deodorising agents. This refining process removes the aroma ad flavour out of the olive including its natural antioxidant properties.
Pomace olive oil
When you see this type of oil, turn the other way and run! This product is normally refined with dangerous chemical solvents such as hexane and does not contain any health benefits. If you aim to purchase olive oil for its health benefits, then pomace oil is one to aboid.
How do I choose the right type of olive oil?
  1. Look at the best before dates on the bottle – unlike wine, oil does not improve with age so the newer, the better.
  2. Look for olive oil that is in a dark glass bottle. Light speeds up the deterioration process.
  3. Take note of the location of the oil. If it is placed on an isle with high levels of natural sunlight or is excessively hot, it might be best to shop for your oil somewhere else.
  4. Sometimes, the quality of oil is indicated when the location of production and name of producer are indicated. Look for the D.O.P. seal (protected designation of origin) on European oils. The less mixed, the better.
  5. Always consider your individual need for consumption before you purchase larger quantities of olive oil.  If you only use it infrequently, then don’t purchase anything more than a litre.

Additional Resources to Help You Learn about Purchasing Extra Virgin Olive Oil

“Extra Virgin Olive Oil Frequently Asked Questions,” Richard Gawel.

“Tom’s Supermarket Picks: quality oils at good prices,” Tom Mueller, Truth in Olive Oil.

“How to tell if your olive oil is the real thing,” Jon Henley, Life and style, The Guardian, 1/4/2012.

“Extra Virgin Olive Oil Fraud: A Guide to Purchasing Olive Oil”



5 Pizza toppings that don’t exist in Neapolitan pizza

Five pizza toppings that don’t exist in Neapolitan pizza

Pizza is something dear to all Italians, and  while all other types of pizza may be similar, it is not “original”. Chicago style pizza? Great, but not pizza. New York style pizza? Good, but not pizza. This is a discussion you will not win with any Italian as they will be fairly inflexible on this matter: the only pizza recognized as such, is the thin crust type cooked in a wood burning oven.

So you can imagine that when it concerns Neapolitan pizza, all hell can break loose. As a general rule, it is all about simple yet quality ingredients but we’re very particular about what should NOT be placed on top of the pizza crust! Here are our top five:

1. Pepperoni

Pepperoni is an American variety of Salame and does not exist in Italy. In fact, the term pepperoni is a corruption of ‘peperoni’, the plural of peperone, the Italian word for bell pepper. If you are looking for something similar in Italy, ask for Salami or in our case, Neapolitan Salami.

2. Pineapple

Contrary to popular belief, The ‘Hawaiian pizza’ does not exist in Italy. Therefore, pineapple is not used as a pizza topping. Similarly to the bikini not originating from Bikini Islands, the Hawaiian pizza is not from Hawaii, but from Canada and was invented by pizza cook Sam Panopoulos who says he invented the dish at Satellite Restaurant in 1962.

3. Pastrami

It might sound Italian but pastami is not Italian. According to Wikipedia, Jewish immigrants brought the dish to America and early references in English was spelled “pastrama”, while its current form is associated with a Jewish store selling “pastrami” in New York City in 1887. It is likely that this spelling was introduced to sound related to the Italian salami.

4. Chicken

Italians do not condone ingredient combinations that steer away from tradition. Many other cultures may do so but in Italy, you will not see chicken on pizza (or pasta) – anywhere.

5. Ketchup

Don’t ever tell an Italian you prefer ketchup over their pizza! Italy is quite famous for its tomato industry and produces a lot of tomatoes, and speciality sauces for pizza (in our case, our San Marzano tomatoes).

Besides, ketchup is anything but a tomato based product! It’s like saying orange juice bought from a store is natural…. it contains like 3% real fruit and the rest are chemicals. Same goes for ketchup. It contains too little tomatoes and too many chemicals, so tomato sauce is actually a better choice.


The structure of a traditional Italian meal


A structure of a traditional Italian meal in its full form, usually performed during festivities consists of 10 components:


The aperitivo opens a meal, and it is similar to an appetizer. Most people gather around standing up and have alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks such as wine, prosecco, champagne or spumante. Occasionally small amounts of food are consumed, such as olives, cheese or crisps.


The antipasto is a slightly heavier starter. It is usually cold and lighter than the first course. Examples of foods eaten are salumi (such as salame, mortadella, prosciutto, bresaola and other charcuterie products), cheeses, sandwich-like foods (panino, bruschetta, tramezzino, crostino), vegetables, cold salmon or prawn cocktails; more elaborate dishes are occasionally prepared.


A primo is the first course. It consists of hot food and is usually heavier than the antipasto, but lighter than the second course. Non-meat dishes are the staple of any primo: examples are risotto, pasta, soup and broth, gnocchi, polenta, crespelle, casseroles, or lasagne.


This course may include different meats and types of fish, including turkey, sausage, pork, steak, stew, beef, zampone, salt cod, stockfish, salmon, lobster, lamb, chicken, or a roast. The primo or the secondo may be considered more important depending on the locality and the situation.


A contorno is a side dish and it’s commonly served alongside a secondo. These usually consist of vegetables, raw or cooked, hot or cold. They are always served in a separate dish, never on the same plate as the meat.


If the contorni contained many leafy vegetables, the salad might be omitted. Otherwise, a fresh garden salad would be served at this point.

Formaggi e frutta

An entire course is dedicated to local cheeses and fresh seasonal fruit. The cheeses will be whatever is typical of the region (see List of Italian cheeses).


Next follows the dolce, or dessert. Frequent dishes include tiramisu, zuppa inglese, panna cotta, cake or pie, panettone or pandoro (the last two are mainly served at Christmas time) and the Colomba Pasquale (an Easter cake). A gelato or a sorbetto can be eaten too. Though there are nationwide desserts, popular across Italy, many regions and cities have local specialities. In Naples, for instance, zeppole and rum baba are popular; in Sicily, cassata and cannoli are commonly consumed; mostarda, on the other hand, is more of a Northern dish.


Coffee is often drunk at the end of a meal, even after the digestivo. Italians, unlike many countries, do not have milky coffees or drinks after meals (such as cappucino or caffè macchiato), but strong coffee such as espresso, which is often drunk very quickly in small cups at very high temperatures.


The digestivo, also called ammazzacaffè if served after the coffee, is the drink to conclude the meal. Drinks such as grappa, amaro, limoncello or other fruit/herbal drinks are drunk. Digestivo indicates that the drinks served at this time are meant to ease digestion of a long meal.

Although ORO 1889 does not conventionally entail the above meal structure, once a month, we close our doors for La Tavolata which is our traditional Italian spread. To find out more, contact us.

How many calories does a Neapolitan pizza contain?

How many calories does a Neapolitan pizza contain?

For many, pizza is a guilty pleasure. A bad day reliever, a ‘fixer-upper’ or simple carb fix. However, much to the contrary belief, a Neapolitan pizza is not as bad and ‘fattening’ as most would consider it to be…

American pizza Vs. Neapolitan pizza

You must know by now that there’s a big difference between the American-styled pizza and a pizza from Naples. Originally pizza in Naples was a dish for the poor and was a simple way to obtain a wholesome, nutritious meal with few ingredients and meat was rarely available.

At ORO 1889 we aim to stick to our traditional roots and if you didn’t know us by now, our pizza is very simple and does not come with a deep-dish nor are our crusts twisted, cheese or sausage-filled.

In fact, an average American 12″ pizza Margherita would equate to roughly 1,600 calories. This is primarily due to containing more carbs, processed cheese and lots of grease in between. Due to the less protein over carbohydrate content, it often means you will end up eating more than you require.

So, how many calories does a 12″ Neapolitan pizza Margherita contain?

800 calories!

Contrary to the greasy deep-dish pizza, you will notice that a traditional Neapolitan pizza Margherita (our 1889 pizza) is lighter and airy. This is due to the flour used (Caputo ’00’ flour from Naples) fresh, quality ingredients (fresh mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes), the hands of a skilled pizza maker and of course, our 500° degree oven. Our pizza cooks between 90-120 seconds and our dough rises for at least 24-hours prior to being individually hand-stretched upon order. This allows the yeast to fully rise, gives the dough a more airy, light texture and keeps overall carbohydrates (and that lovely post-pizza bloated whale feeling) to a minimum.

So next time you are after a healthy meal, step out of the box and order a pizza to share with a salad to start. Trust us, it will not be so bad after all.

What is a Neapolitan pizza?

Being Sri-Lanka’s first Neapolitan pizzeria, we understand that Neapolitan pizza is new pizza experience for some so we thought we’d take the opportunity to demystify it for you…

The size

Our pizzas are served in one size only – it is roughly 12 inches in diameter and a person with an average appetite will be able to finish one pizza by themselves. Neapolitan pizza is all about flavours and each pizza varies in taste. We recommend you gather three or four of your friends, order a different pizza each and share so that you can experience the different varieties available.

Best enjoyed as a sit-down meal

Although some prefer to take their pizza away, a Neapolitan pizza is best enjoyed as a sit-down meal. The crust is very light and does not hold well in a take away box. The confined space steams the pizza and once cold, the pizza loses its crispness. Always eat in for the best results.

Neapolitan pizza cooks quickly

Authentic Neapolitan wood-fired ovens heats up to 500°c resulting in the pizza cooking in less than two minutes from the time it enters the oven.

‘Soggy’, ‘wet’ or ‘soupy’ pizza

If you have never had Neapolitan pizza, be prepared for the term, “soggy”. The sauce and fresh mozzarella combo creates a molten, hot and soupy centre of the pizza.

Unsliced whole pizza

The traditional Neapolitan pizza comes unsliced primarily due to the wet centre. So if you see that we haven’t sliced your pizza, it’s not because we have forgotten but if you would like your pizza sliced, please let us know and we can slice it for you.

Charred crust

One main characteristic of the Neapolitan pizza is the charred crust. This occurs due to the high temperatures of the oven and is unavoidable. A nice light char brings out another flavour to the pizza but if the crust is bitter, then it is burned.

Minimally topped

The last area to bring into light is the topping. Our pizzas are not like the American-styled pizzas, they are minimally topped. You will be able to see through the cheese. A Neapolitan pizza is about a fine balance of flavour so that no component overpowers another. Some will enjoy the fact that they are able to differentiate the various components and some will think it is a rip-off. This is something to note before you visit us in order to manage your expectations if you are not used to Neapolitan pizza.

Credits: Adam Kuban at Slice