A Taproom Sans Beer That’s Worth a Trip Anyway
The Twisted Branch in Valhalla serves up hand-blended spices, local honey, in-house gourmet coffee, and all the oil and vinegar blends your kitchen is craving.
Photos by Dave Zucker
You wouldn’t be remiss to think the terms “tasting room,” “on tap,” and “local or imported” are more typically applied to bars and distilleries than an artisan olive oil shop. Envision row after row of taps, all meticulously labeled with source, notes, and pairing suggestions; now swap the kegs for gleaming drums of oils and aged balsamic. Welcome to The Twisted Branch.
“The concept is we want people to come in and try before they buy,” says co-owner Rich Cozza. “We want people to sample what real olive oil tastes like.” At Twisted Branch, all the extra virgin olive oils are made from a single cultivar of olives, often from the very same estate. The infusions are made exclusively by the soaking and straining herbs or by blending them with essential oils extracted from fresh fruit.
Their balsamic vinegars are much the same — white and dark varieties all from Modena, Italy and aged upwards of ten years for a thick and sweet consistency — available in many infused varieties for dressings, marinades, dips, and whatever else your heart desires.
Cozza, his wife Erika, and his sister and brother-in law John and Denise Cherico opened The Twisted Branch in April 2015, their goal being to create a communal market for fresh, high-quality cooking. “It’s about educating,” says Cozza says. “Most people are familiar with these products and the fact that there’s been a lot of press lately about the lack of quality at big box stores.” To counter to this, The Twisted Branch offers up its pantry of top-quality oils (via a Greek family in Harrison), honey from a local farm, New York and Northeastern regional cheeses (from their local cheesemonger), and hand-ground salts and spices (from a local mom-and-pop).
If any of this sounds a bit beyond your culinary know-how, stop on by one of Twisted Branch’s cooking classes: local chefs host a loosely themed meal in the store, pulling ingredients off the shelves and improvising with whatever is fresh on hand, explaining terminology and tips while crafting delicious dishes.
Small specialty shops tend to be difficult to operate, between fewer and less frequently used products and traditionally higher prices as a trade-off for higher quality. The Twisted Branch defies expectation, however: Their oils and vinegars all come in four reasonably-priced sizes from small gift bottles to full-sized 750ml wine bottles, all of which are washable and reusable, earning repeat customers a 15 percent discount on refills.
By selling high-quality ingredients at grocery store prices and inviting the local community inside, The Twisted Branch has grown quite a bit. Customers loved the house blend of coffee beans so much that a full bar had to be installed in the back of the shop to brew on-site. Now you can enjoy hot and iced lattes, espressos, cappuccinos, teas, hot cocoa, or a cold brew at the little tables outside during nicer weather.
If you’re ever stumped for a new recipe or your taste buds have grown tired of your kitchen staples, be sure to check out The Twisted Branch in Valhalla.
The Twisted Branch
24 Broadway, Valhalla
914.437.8000; The Twisted Branch
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