Gustare Oils and Vinegars began as a seasonal olive oil shop in Chatham, Mass. in 2009. Guests to the shop so liked owners Catherine and Dave Ferraresi’s products they insisted the husband and wife team expand beyond Cape Cod. Since then, the Ferraresi’s have opened a 7-day a week operation in Mashpee, and a Thursday-through-Sunday tasting room in Wellesley in January.
The Ferraresis took a few moments Thursday afternoon at their Wellesley Square shop, lined with containers of extra virgin olive oil and balsamics all ready to taste, to talk about their bottling process, their tasting room setup and how they chose to open their third store in Wellesley Square.
Wellesley Patch: Why did you pick Wellesley?
Dave Ferraresi: Primarily because of our customer base on Cape Cod. Right now since we’ve been open the last couple months, a third of the people who’ve come in have been in one of our tasting rooms on Cape Cod. A lot of second homeowners and seasonal tourists would come down to the Cape, experience what we had…and say “I live permanently in the Metro West area, why don’t you open up in the Metro West?” It looked like Wellesley was going through some renaissance, and we decided it would be a nice footprint for us. We had a lot of shared guests with Wasik’s. People would say “I wish I could get my olive oils and vinegars at the same time I pick up my cheese.”
WP: But you have to go to the other side of the town for your wine, right?
DF: Yeah, if the wine were down the street it would wrap it all up.
WP: I’m sure you’ve heard Wellesley Square has gone through tough times the last couple years. How did you come to decide to move into Wellesley Square?
DF: We were familiar with Wasik’s. We knew that our shop would be somewhat similar to theirs in terms of the shopping experience, or we wanted it to be similar. We spoke to them two seasons ago when we were thinking of opening to see what they thought. Obviously you don’t want to be on top of [them], but you want to be in that same location. We looked at things farther down Central Street, we looked at Church Street. We looked at what was available, and we liked this location because we knew what Linear Retail (which leases much of Wellesley Square’s property) was going to put into the square longer term (Editor’s note: There’s some talk of an Alta Strada patio and further area parking refinements). And, the thing we don’t have the luxury of on the Cape is parking.
WP: What else does your Wellesley shop bring to the table that maybe your others do not?
DF: Primarily, a little space to evolve Gustare beyond just oils and vinegars. The logical [move] for us would be salts and seasonings, and maybe some olive wood products, but not too far away from where an olive or a grape would be. The space allows us two things: No. 1, it gives us a way to align the shop in terms of oils on one side and vinegars on the other…Again, on the Cape, the space is so small, you can only accommodate 10 or 15 people.
WP: This place is definitely big. It looks like you have a yoga studio back there.
Catherine Ferraresi: I know, I can get a good jog in (laughs).
DF: Then, from a non-consumer standpoint, we can consolidate all of our online business and shipping and receiving from this location too. We bring everything in here now and use this as a hub to feed the other shops.
WP: How does the whole operation work?
DF: We get the product in bulk. Fill the fustis (containers), and then we cork, bottle and seal everything here. So it’s basically a little retail bottling operation. We get it right after the first press [and] add the infusions.
WP: What’s hot right now in the olive oil game?
CF: Right now we’re putting together some summer recipes. I have some things in the works, something I tasted when we went to Sicily in the fall, and I had it every day because it was so good: A fresh orange and avocado salad. I use fresh orange juice and one of our classic Italian olive oils. It’s simple, it’s refreshing and it’s so satisfying. And the colors look just like summer.
WP: When you think about high-end olive oils, you presume they would only be used on food to eat or to dip bread into. But you’re talking about cooking with these oils?
DF: If you have the right quality product you should be able to use it across the board.
WP: That said, I know cheese, I know beer, I know a bit about wine, but nothing about olive oil…
DF: It’s all very similar. It’s just us transferring information from our experience living in Europe for 10 years. We got used to it because it was more prevalent each day…A lot of people just think of oil and vinegar just on their salads.
Gustare Oils & Vinegars is located at 90 Central St. The store is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.