COLUMN: These Italian peppers have become a household name in WV

By Candace Nelson - 1:12 PM


Here's my latest column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

You may not know you’re a fan of La Peperonata, but there’s a good chance you’ve had it atop a pepperoni roll, over sausage or on a cheeseburger.

La Peperonata, or bell peppers in tomato sauce, often shows up on menus across the Northern Panhandle and North-Central West Virginia, where there are large Italian-American populations.

Fairmont: The Italian-style peppers in sauce can be added to pepperoni buns in Fairmont at Colasessano’s World Famous Pizza & Pepperoni Buns. Wheeling: At Mikla’s Meat Market in Wheeling, you can order a hot sausage sandwich served with your choice of cheese and topped with hot or sweet peppers in sauce.

Clarksburg: And at Chunki’s Pizza and Subs in Clarksburg, you can enjoy a “Giovanni” sandwich, which includes a beef steak patty on Italian grilled bread served with American cheese and hot or sweet peppers.

Many of those peppers served on classic dishes come from one particular brand: Oliverio Italian Style Peppers. These jarred peppers in sauce were created in West Virginia and have become the go-to shortcut for dishes relying on the flavors of tomato and bell pepper.

“In the 1930's, in the back of the family grocery store located in Clarksburg, WV, Antoinette Oliverio perfected her recipe for peppers in Italian sauce. The peppers were so popular, her son Frank came up with the idea of offering this true authentic Italian food to others. In 1972, he took her treasured recipes and began canning peppers under the name Oliverio Italian Style Peppers,” the website reads.

“This may be how the tradition started, but today Oliverio's still makes all their products with fresh produce and a special blend of herbs and spices, all simmered with perfection in mind. Only the best was served in the Oliverio home, and we strive to make a product worthy to be served in homes across the country. Today, three generations of the Oliverio family have combined their love of good food with their recipe for success, to make Oliverio products superior in every way.”

Oliverio Peppers is used as a type of recipe starter that simplifies meal preparation. Oliverio also offers a number of other products in its line:

Sweet Peppers in Sauce Olvero
Medium Hot Peppers in Sauce Olvero
Hot Peppers in Sauce Olvero
Red Hot Peppers in Sauce Olvero
Thick Pizza Sauce
Thick, Italian Style Spaghetti Sauce
Sweet Peppers & Onions Spaghetti Sauce
Mild Pepper Rings in Vinegar Olvero
Hot Pepper Rings in Vinegar Olvero
Hot Pepper Chunks in Vinegar Olvero
Mild Pepper Chunks in Vinegar Olvero
Sliced Jalapeno Peppers in Vinegar
Whole Hot Banana Peppers in Vinegar Olvero
Whole Mild Banana Peppers in Vinegar Olvero
Mild Giardiniera in Vinegar Olvero
Hot Giardiniera in Vinegar Olvero
Hot Cauliflower in Vinegar Olvero
Mild Cauliflower in Vinegar Olvero
Hot Pepperoncini in Vinegar Olvero
Vodka Sauce
Fra Diavolo Vodka Sauce

What I love about Oliverio Peppers is the mass adoption at Italian-American restaurants and shops and wide community support of a delicious product that speaks to the region’s heritage. That, and it’s delicious, of course.

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