Olive oil played a significant role in ancient Greece, from fostering trade between city-states to lubricating trireme hulls so they could travel faster through the Aegean Sea's rough waters. Enjoy the smooth taste of history with today's Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of olive oil and vinegars at il Fustino.
Filled by the juices of local producers, the numerous Italian-made tanks at il Fustino are home to certified extra-virgin olive oils, vinegars, and other assorted specialty oils. The Mission Reserve blend, which is milled on a family farm in Paso Robles, helpfully smothers the complaints of salads and fresh vegetables that don't want to be eaten ($18.95 for 375 mL), and the Arbequina oil conjures notes of tropical zest, apple, and fresh artichoke ($18.95 for 375 mL). Vinegars include the Winter Ambrosia—available only during winter months and crafted with pear, apple, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and sugar ($14.35 for 375 mL)—and the 25-year-old balsamic ($25.95 for 375 mL). Il Fustino's shelves round out the oily repertoire by displaying a range of flavored olive oils, suitable for tricking picky eaters into consuming virtually anything.
Because choosing the right oil or vinegar is a subjective process, il Fustino patrons can sample any oil before making a purchase. Staffers will also happily fill and price any glass container brought to them, allowing guests to fulfill their longtime fantasies of filling a glass house with oil.
The old ways still reign supreme at il Fustino. The store’s interior is lined with rows of stainless-steel containers called fustis, all of which hold flavor-infused and extra-virgin olive oils and aged vinegars. Used in the Mediterranean for centuries, fustis keep oils fresh in bulk or can be used to store a stack of unread Mediterranean diet books. As shoppers browse fruity oils and vinegary vinegars, staffers kick open the taps to dispense samples of them as requested. The fustis empty newly purchased liquids into bottles that can be brought back for refills, long after their contents liven up salads, pizzas, and water-balloon fights.
3401 State St.
Santa Barbara, California 93105