Oiling up

ROI: Cru Riva Gianca

Made from Taggiasca olives, this light, sweet and delicate oil from the commune of Poggi, a province of Liguria, offers "superb fluidity with an elongated finish and slight nip of pepper towards the end," says Coleman. It’s ideal for cooking fish or vegetables, when you don’t want the flavor of the oil to dominate the dish. ($50, available at williams-sonoma.com).

Tip: Buy in the New Year

When buying in the U.S., bottles are freshest and in most abundant supply near January. It takes about two months to import and stock the oils after the fall harvest.

La Mola

Made by one of the few female olive oil producers in Italy, La Mola is a clean, crisp and pristine oil with soft undertones of grass and a mid-bodied peppery finish. Incorporating Raja, Frantoio, Leccino and Pendolino olives north of Rome, its balanced structure pairs well with both meats and soups, yet remains light enough for grilled fish and fresh vegetables. ($18, available at agferrari.com).

Tip: Labels Matter 

The more information, the better. Look for a harvest date, a specific region (as opposed to only "product of Italy") and the extraction process (first cold pressed or cold extracted). The best are hand-numbered, like this one, and describe even the most seemingly minute details.

Frantoio Franci: Villa Magra

Composed of 50 percent Frantoio, 35 percent Moraiolo and 15 percent Leccino olives, this oil from Montenero d'Orcia, Tuscany, has qualities of freshly cut grass and a robust peppery finish, which lends itself to bread dipping and salads as well as cutting through rich sauces, meats and soups. ($36, available at oliveoilmerchant.com).

Tip: Keep 3 Oils on Hand

Every pantry should have at least 2 finishing oils on hand: one light, delicate oil and one grassy, robust oil (like this one). Plus one clean extra virgin workhorse olive oil for everyday cooking.

Frantoi Cutrera: Primo

This Sicilian oil is derived from Tonda Iblea olives hand-harvested early, which accounts for its robust fruity and peppery flavor profile. It’s frequently used at Mario Batali's restaurant OTTO and is a favorite for David Pasternack, executive chef at Esca, since it pairs well with seafood, vegetables, pizzas and pastas. ($35, available at lario.com).

Tip: Choose Dark Bottles

It helps preserve the health benefits and the taste. And store oil in a cool, dark place like a cabinet — never on a windowsill or by the stove.