Looking for all the world like a wine bar, this place turns out to be not about drinking at all. Beyond the Olive (tagline: Celebrating Food and Living Well) is an olive oil and balsamic vinegar store that also stocks some other foods (olives, dips, tapenades, crackers) and gift items, such as bowls (for olive oil, of course), decanters and cookbooks. When I walked in, I ran into a friend, city planner Laura Dahl, who was buying one of the most popular items in the store (according to owner Crystal Reibel), a peach balsamic vinegar, aged for 18 years. “I could drink it as an aperitif, it’s so good,” said Dahl. I tried it, and she’s right. All the oils and vinegars can be tasted in little cups with bread for dipping, and many are poured from big vats. “You fill your reusable bottle and don’t pay for the packaging or the cork,” says Reibel, who is a walking oil-and-vinegar encyclopedia; she says that unlike Europe, the U.S. does not regulate the quality of oils, so you may not be getting the quality you think you are. All the oils here are from California, and the balsamic vinegars are from Italy.
10 N. Raymond Ave., Old Pasadena, 626.844.3866 ,beyondtheolive.com