His enthusiasm is not only contagious, it’s compelling. Compelling me to drink vinegar and olive oil from tiny disposable shot glasses on an empty stomach. While at the counter sampling his wares, sun streams in through the windows of this small but tidy Elmwood storefront. A wall of balsamic vinegar bottles shimmer and the shop’s recessed ceiling is reflected twenty or more times in the shiny metal “fustis” that line the opposite wall, labeled with tags that list descriptors like “Harissa”, and “Roasted French Walnut”.
Today at 11:00 a.m., D’Avolio, which is nestled into a tiny storefront on Elmwood Avenue near Lancaster, will open its doors for the first time. Though the space has seen a cavalcade of small businesses over the years, it seems to be a perfect fit for the vision held by its enthusiastic owner, Dan Gagliardo.
D’Avolio is a boutique shop that specializes in olive oil and vinegar. Twenty-three varieties of vinegar are available, including classic sherry and champagne vinegars, as well as flavored-infused options such as Honey Ginger White Balsamic and Cinnamon Pear. In the olive oil department there are four classic flavors that range in flavor from the very fresh and green Arbequina Private Reserve (my favorite) to the late harvest Picholine. Additionally, over twenty-three infused oils boast familiar and exotic flavors like Chipotle, Persian Lime, Herbes de Provence, and even Butter. Vinegars retail for $20 a bottle and oils retail for $15. Both are competitively priced for their size and quality.
For those of you who may wonder if you will enjoy the flavor or intensity of any of these oils or vinegars, self-serve samples are always available, and Gagliardo says that D’Avolio will take their sampling on the road to charity events and private tasting parties.
A modest selection of other food and gift items are available at the store, including pastas, salts and pickled items from local business, Deb’s Delights. For regular customers, an incentive to re-use your olive oil and vinegar bottles will soon be in place.
In early 2010, Gagliardo, a successful businessman, stumbled upon a similar olive oil shop on a visit to Scottsdale, Arizona. Within months he had organized a plan to take over the WNY area with the tasty concept, dedicated to his Italian grandmother who cooked everything with olive oil her brother shipped to her from Italy. Her image graces the Elmwood shop in addition to the shop located in the Village of Lewiston, which opened five weeks ago. Gagliardo has heard the question ‘How can you make a successful business from just selling olive oil?’ here on Buffalo Rising and from plenty of others, but the success of similar locations elsewhere in the country and the excitement of his Lewiston customers (many whom have already returned for a refill more than once) proved to him that his notion to bring this business to WNY was a good one.
“I welcome those questions,” Gagliardo says with a grin. “Once someone comes in and tries any of our oils or vinegars, they understand what we’re doing. Olive oil is the healthiest of all the fats, even when it is heated and begins to break down, it is still the healthiest. Once people come in and taste what we have, they will keep coming back.”
The addition of D’Avolio to this part of Elmwood further cements this neighborhood’s newly-minted reputation as a “food Mecca”. Penzey’s Spices, the gourmet goods selection at Globe Market and Delish, the Lexington Co-op, and now D’Avolio, make this little section of the bustling village well worth the drive for any self-respecting cook.
Stop into D’Avolio and check it out for yourself. The shop will be open 7 days a week with evening hours. Other plans for future WNY locations are in the works.
830 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222