When it comes to texture, brine, and appearance, olives vary widely. Lately, chefs have been playing favorites with the fat, verdant Sicilian variety known as Castelvetrano: They’ve shown up smoked and topped with fried almonds at Alden & Harlow, paired with Spanish octopus and fingerling potatoes at the new Café ArtScience, and arranged atop delicate sea bass crudo at Bistro du Midi. “They are kind of a gateway olive—if you don’t love olives, you still might love these,” says Tavern Road chef-owner Louis DiBiccari, who favors their mild flavor, sturdy bite, and versatility. At his restaurant, chopped Castelvetranos brighten rabbit-studded risotto, the brine adds tang to vinaigrettes and sauces, and the pits even infuse stocks. Want to try them at home? DiBiccari suggests incorporating them into niçoise salads, using them in lieu of capers, and whisking the brine into salad dressings.
Castelvetrano olives (pictured), $11 per pound, Formaggio Kitchen, 244 Huron Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-4750, formaggiokitchen.com.