Olivastro in Phoenix: What We Bought, What We Skipped and What We're Still Lusting Over

The Spot: Olivastro, Open Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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What We Bought: Oil and vinegar aficionados have a home in CenPho's Olivastro market and tasting room. With nearly 50 options of olive oil and balsamic vinegar options, it's best to take a complimentary (and highly encouraged by the friendly, knowledgeable staff) taste before you select. Bottles run $12 for 200mL and $16 for 375mL, regardless of which flavor or style you choose. Some of our favorite flavors of oil offered include wild mushroom and sage, basil, eureka lemon and blood orange, along with the more simple and organic freestone Chemiali. Thai lemongrass and mint white balsamic (think summer salad) and aged dark espresso red balsamic (think BBQ) take the vinegar cake in our book for flavor and usability in our kitchens at home.

What We Skipped: We weren't wild about every flavor we tried at Olivastro. The more robust olive oil options had overly earthy tones for our liking. The cara cara orange and vanilla white balsamic should have been a home run for us, since we adore cara caras and vanilla is a great base flavor. However, we couldn't see ourselves using it anytime soon. Maybe we can take some hints from Slade Grove Gourmet caramels, which incorporate several of Olivastro's wares in its sweets.

What We're Still Lusting Over: Next time we drop in to Olivastro, we're definitely going to pick up some aged lavender balsamic, which we'll quickly incorporate into both sweet and savory dishes for a great floral kick. We were also left wanting the authentic, made in Moderna, Italy jarred balsamic pesto alla Genovese from Cascina Marchesa, which looked great but was $10 for a little jar. However, it seems all of the oil and balsamic options have great potential in one way or another to add a unique kick to your favorite dish. The oils even make great soaps, which are already prepped and ready for your purchase at the store.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch