Glenside native turned expat and now bicontinental entrepreneur, Alexa Dombkoski, converted a pandemic pivot into a business venture with the launch of Bellecento Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a luxe first cold-pressed olive oil harvested in Fall 2021 on a single estate in the Tuscan countryside.
Now, Dombkoski is bringing a taste of her adopted home in Florence, Italy back to the Montgomery County region, with Bellecento.
After a study abroad semester in Italy and graduating from college in 2013, Alexa Dombkoski decided to leave her home in the Philadelphia suburbs, where she grew up in the restaurant industry, courtesy of her father, Michael Dombkoski – an industry vet and former co-owner of the trailblazing restaurant, ¡Pasión! – and move to Florence, Italy where she planted roots nearly a decade ago.
Over the last nine years, Dombkoski worked various jobs in hospitality and tourism, serving in numerous bars and restaurants in Florence, as well as offering Vespa and bike tours of Tuscany, which was all put on pause when the pandemic hit.
Taking advantage of the connections she made over the years as well as her knowledge of food and the Tuscan countryside, Alexa set her sights on Reggello, or as the locals call it, La Città dell’Olio (the city of oil), the fountainhead of extra virgin olive oil, and birthplace of the newest premium cooking and dipping oil, Bellecento Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
“I’ve always said I wanted to build a bridge between my two homes, my birthplace in Philadelphia and my adopted home of Florence,” said Dombkoski. “And food has always been a vehicle of bringing friends and family together in Italian culture. I want Americans to have access to the same high-quality ingredients that Italians do and if you ask any Florentine where their olive oil is from, they’re going to say Reggello. That’s where you go if you’re a local.”
The first batch of Bellecento was made in Fall 2021 during harvest season on a single Tuscan estate, located 21 miles southeast of Florence, Italy, in Reggello, a member of the National Association of Olive Oil cities, known for its high-quality olive trees.
Bellecento is an extra virgin oil meaning it is first cold-pressed; the olives are only milled once in the extraction process and the olives never exceed 80°F. The olive oil extracted from the first milling is believed to be the highest quality and purity. This method ensures that the oil’s acidity level stays as low as possible, an important standard for premium extra virgin olive oil.
Bellecento is intensely fruity and a bit peppery with notes of almond and artichoke, crafted with Frantoio, Leccio del Corno, Moraiolo and Pendolino olives.
“Bello means ‘beautiful’ in Italian and Italy is often described as the ‘bel paese’ or ‘the beautiful country.’ We chose ‘belle” instead of ‘bello,’ which is the feminine plural because the women of Italy are responsible for carrying on the rich traditions of Italian culture through food and family”
“And, finally, olive trees can last hundreds of years which is why we used ‘cento.’ While the olive flowers are very delicate, the roots of the olive tree are near indestructible and this juxtaposition between delicacy and strength is the perfect reflection of the oil,” she said.
For more information, please visit here.