When it comes to indulgent sweet treats, there’s nothing like a sumptuous slice of Italian panettone. The traditional Italian holiday bread is fluffy, fresh, and just sweet enough — and no one does it better than Olivieri 1882. Located between Verona and Vicenza, the Italian bakery has been honing their famed panettone for well over a century and the family-run pasticceria calls upon a 140-year old recipe (and a meticulous production process that takes days to prepare the dough itself) to get it right every time.
Currently helmed by sixth-generation baker, owner, and pastry chef Nicola Olivieri, Olivieri 1882 cuts through the crowd of other brands on the market thanks to its hand-selected raw ingredients, elevated packaging, and downright delicious special occasion breads that are often spotted at five-star hotels (including J.K. Place in Paris), world-class restaurants, and elegant department stores in every major market. We caught up with Olivieri during this busy season to get the scoop behind the brand.
1) Tell us the history and heritage of Olivieri 1882? How did it come to be? What makes it special?
We are a historic, 6th-generation family-run business in Arzignano, Italy (part of the Vicenza province) and celebrated our 141st anniversary this year. It all began with my great-great-grandfather Luigi in 1882, who first opened the bakery over a century ago, making a small selection of breads. As the years went on, some family members emigrated to the US (in fact, we still have family in New Jersey), while others remained in Italy, keeping the business alive during the hard years of the Great War. In 1927, my grandfather Oliviero was born, who went on to take the reins with my Nonna Miranda. Eventually my father Oliviero took over, and then me along with my brother Andrea. I grew up in Olivieri 1882’s kitchen, watching my family knead and mix and bake, so it was all very normal to me. Like most teenagers, I didn’t want to follow in my family’s footsteps and absolutely did not want to become a baker. But after a year abroad in Australia where I worked in a family bakery very similar to mine, I realized I could lead Olivieri 1882’s evolution, maintaining our traditions while giving my own creative spin to things.
This business is special because as time has gone on, each generation has added their own recipes and techniques, building on what had been passed down. Olivieri 1882 is a true family heirloom. It is a joy to see my own children in the bakery – I hope they one day want to carry on the family business, but they’re too little to know yet!
2) How have you upheld the integrity of the pasticceria for over a century? How do most people discover Olivieri 1882?
We are and always have been a family business so have a deep affection and respect for what we’ve built throughout the centuries. Our business may be historic, but we are firmly rooted in the present, and remain curious, innovative and are nearly obsessive about quality. We have a loyal and growing following not just in Italy but also abroad, specifically in the US. We’ve been featured in widely-read newspapers likeThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,and theBoston Globeso have been lucky enough to receive new customers through those channels. Clients also find us through old-fashioned word-of-mouth.
3) Why is the panettone the ideal holiday treat or gift? How would you describe it for someone who has never tried one?
The panettone symbolizes the holiday season in Italy and is perfect for Italophiles, foodies, luxury lovers, or anyone with a sweet tooth. I can’t speak for other recipes, but the Olivieri 1882 panettone is made exclusively with high-quality ingredients: Belgian centrifuged butter, 5 crown sultanas, Tahitian bourbon vanilla, and fruit candied by hand. We also use 4x the amount of eggs than in a typical panettone recipe, so our cake is rich yet super soft and light thanks to a long, natural fermentation process, and each panettone takes 4 days to make. It’s a version of the fruitcake I promise you’ll actually love!
4) If you had to recommend one treat or flavor from Olivieri 1882, what would it be?
I am faithful to the Panettone Classico (with candied fruit, vanilla bean, and sultanas). It’s the flavor I grew up eating and it’s very nostalgic for me. That being said, I love our Limoncello flavor, which debuted this year, made with Limoncello from Sorrento and candied lemons. Another bestseller is our Apricot & Salted Caramel panettone.
5) Tell us a holiday tradition that you hold dear.
A fun family tradition is baking a large panettone (2kg) that we all share at Christmas dinner. We pair it with a homemade chantilly cream.
6) What is your favorite indulgence or luxury to splurge on during the holiday season?
A true indulgence following the holiday season, our busiest time of the year, is a vacation away! Preferably somewhere warm and tropical with palm trees.