"Herbs are the soul of everything..."
Chef Aamar's parents didn't expect a chef when they sent their son to Italy to study architecture in Florence. His passion for Italian food began when he took a job in a restaurant to make some money during summer vacations. As time went on his interest in cooking grew. He came to the U.S. in 1984 first working in Kentucky, California and then New York. In 1989 he met Adam Reiss who had just opened Doc's in New Preston and left Orso to cook there. Cooking to rave reviews for 6 and 1/2 years, Aamar left in 1995 and opened Oliva in the spring of 1997.
Oliva, the Italian word for 'olive' was so named for that oil used in almost everything cooked at Oliva. It thus symbolizes the many culinary aspects of the Mediterranean. When Oliva opened in 1997, its menu was strictly northern Italian but over time more northern African dishes have appeared to the delight of patrons.
Chef Aamar helped to put New Preston on the culinary map during his 6 years at Doc's and has continued to do so since 1997 at Oliva.
"The chef's philosophy of fresh food extends to his use of many native-grown herbs and vegetables. Aamar credits his early years growing up in the West Bank for giving him his reverence for nature's bounty. He reminisces of his boyhood days exploring the hills and woods, often collecting wild herbs for his mother to use in the family meals. The simple life of good, natural foods inspired him to delelop his current specialties."
--Patricia Fitch in the Waterbury-Republican.