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Jun 15, 2009 11:59 AM

Best bang-for-the-buck extra virgin olive oil in the Watertown/Cambridge area

My most recent bottle of moderately-priced green, peppery evoo has given up its last drop, Time to go hunting for a replacement! This bottle was the generic Italian evoo sold by Whole Foods. It's perfectly fine for everyday use and the price is comparatively gentle on the economy-impaired wallet. In times past I have enjoyed a Lebanese extra virgin olive oil that is sold in glass bottles and jugs at Sevan market - quite tasty at a reasonable price. However there are a plethora of other choices available at Sevan, Arax, Massis, and under the fruit counter near the check-out counters at Russo's. Alas, nobody seems to be staging comparative olive oil tastings. What are your favorites? My goal is about a liter of evoo that might stand in for a good everyday Italian product in sauteeing or dressings. In this specific case I am looking for something

- is moderately assertive
- somewhat peppery
- filtered (I tend to use unfiltered olive oil only in dressings or finish a recipe)
- greenish (as opposed to the yellowish; for some reason I associate more yellow-y olive oil with a milder/rounder flavor profile).
- it can be from Italy but doesn't have to be

For what it's worth I am also currently working on a bottle of Whole Foods Spanish evoo that works great when I want a milder flavor.


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  1. I don't have a favorite, but I do know that Capone foods offers tastings of most of their oils. When I asked for recs for a reasonably priced balsamic, they were happy to comply and I was happy with the results. I'm sure they'd do the same for the olive oil.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ClippyZ

      That's another reason for me to finally get over to Capone's. I've been meaning to. Thanks!

    2. A little out of the way, but the former Roma Seafood on Somerville Ave. near the Target is now called Souza's. They had metal cans of Portuguese olive oil that pretty much hit the characteristics you seek, particularly the peppery part iirc. I unfortunately do not remember the name, but the folks there can probably help you out. That is also down the street from the original Capone's. It was pretty cheap too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        i think Formaggios used to have oil you could taste before buying (bring your own bottle to fill is what I recall). I try different ones at Russos and am reasonably happy with Sicilian olive oil at the moment. For every day use, I like Sassos, which I get in big tins at Arax.

      2. I always thought you weren't supposed to saute using evoo. Am I wrong?

        I found a great delicious really "olivey" greek (and green!) evoo at the Milton Marketplace/The Fruit Center in East Milton Square. They had a lot of varieties from different regions as well. If that's close to you, I'd recommend checking them out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kobuta

          It is fine to saute with EVOO, as long as you don't mind the relatively high cost and don't mind the EVOO flavor that the sauted food will have.

          1. re: Delhiwala

            Well, EVOO also has a really low smoking point so it is not good if you are going to get the pan real hot. Burns much easier then say Canola, or Peanut which is the best for frying.

            Also, if you have really good EVOO the volatiles which make it tasty are the first thing to evaporate away when heated so most of the flavor will go away if you heat it much at all.

            You certainly can sautee with it, but just don't heat it too much...

        2. Not in the area you're looking in, but I used to go to George Armenis in the North End tucked away in a nondescript storefornt on Lewis Street for extremely cheap extra virgin olive oil (I will not say or write "evoo" thanks to Rachel Ray). I think I used to pay $12 for the large metal container of Olivia brand. I'll see if they are still there later in the week:

          2 Replies
          1. re: nsenada

            Cool! I have lived in the Boston area for more than 35 years and never heard of George Armenis. This is definitely a must-visit for my next North End foodie crawl.

            1. re: PinchOfSalt

              When I worked in the North End, I would stroll around at random, and I think that's about the only way I would have ever known about it. They also have Greek olives that they will sell you, out of barrells. Nothing fancy, but quite good.

          2. If you head out to Costco in Waltham, you can get their latest bottling of Kirkland brand, Tuscany-grown olive oil. It's $12 a liter, and it has the taste profile you're looking for, at good value.

            3 Replies
            1. re: winedude

              This year's Costco vintage is very peppery. A little too much so for my taste but does sound perfect for the OP's taste.

              1. re: winedude

                Yes, I have tasted that olive oil and it is pretty good. Thanks for reminding me about it! Was there life before Costco?

                1. re: PinchOfSalt

                  There was, but it wasn't worth living :-)