Falls Church store is dedicated to nuts, coffee, spices and confections.
America is the land of one-stop shopping: the mega supermarkets, where the stores are so big and the selection so wide that buying shoes, pants, a frying pan, yogurt, bananas, a desk lamp, stuffed animals, school supplies and toilet paper is possible in a single trip.
And that’s if it isn’t ordered through the click of a button.
Americans are not conditioned to make a separate stop for bread, let alone nuts, even if they are imported from the Middle East and roasted in-house, almost daily.
For Amro Ali and his business partner Sameh Nemer, a store dedicated to nuts, coffee, spices and confections makes sense. Ali, born in Jordan and raised in Dubai, opened Ramallah Roasted Nuts & Specialty almost as soon as he moved to the country. An electrical engineer by trade, he switched fields once he noticed the lack of these traditional shops in Virginia.
The tiny Falls Church storefront sells more than 20 variations of nuts . Pistachios are hauled in from Iran, Turkey and California and are also available in an American-style barbecue seasoning. Almonds, cashews, walnuts and hazelnuts are all on display too, usually with a few options for each nut, whether it’s in-shell, roasted with different techniques or spiced. Lesser known stateside, at least for snacking, are roasted chickpeas and watermelon seeds, which Ali says is “like popcorn when watching movies.”
Kri kri is perhaps the gem of them all: sweetened peanuts toasted and covered in a thin, hard flour shell. It’s almost like an M&M, minus the chocolate.
The shop also sells otherwise hard-to-find bulk spices and cooking must-haves for certain kitchens: galangal, safflower, garden cress and lumi omani (dried limes from Yemen and Oman). There’s a wall of imported chocolate candies such as Nestle’s Aero and Lion , and some, like a differently formulated Snickers, that Ali says tastes different, and also better. A shop like this wouldn’t be complete without an assortment of dates: try the creamy rotab from Dubai.
There’s coffee too, which Ali grinds, but doesn’t roast, in-house and adds cardamom for a Turkish-style blend. Opened less than 10 months, the owners are already looking to expand. They hope to start a cafe, where they can roast beans and sell coffee and pastries, plus, of course, nuts. // 3425 Payne St., Falls Church