Italian food store in Dallas' Oak Cliff proffers pastas, sauces, and charm
Foodies in Oak Cliff have a new place to get their Italian food fix, right in the neighborhood. Called Ari's Pantry, it's a cool little grocery and market coming soon to 1307 ½ W. Davis St. in Winnetka Heights, selling pastas, tomato sauces, olive oils, and imported Italian foodstuffs.
The shop will celebrate a grand opening on Saturday December 16 from 2-7 pm.
Ari's is the dream of Ari Lowenstein, a caterer who is following his passion – and stomach – for all things Italy.
The idea: a small Italian food store with unparalleled customer service and an emphasis on recipe-ready staples, with some similarities to Jimmy’s Food Store, but with a hyper-local vibe and smaller footprint, and staff on hand, garbed in charming dress shirts, ties, and aprons for an authentic, Italian general store atmosphere, ready and eager to help.
"Geographically, there is nothing like this down here, in the heart of Oak Cliff," Lowenstein says. "We all have to cross the Trinity to find this food, but there are certainly enough people here to warrant our own shop."
They'll have about 30 kinds of pasta, and tomato sauces made in-house. The special extra is Ari’s recipe cards, along with personal guidance through the process.
“If you have questions, call me,” Lowenstein said. “I’ll walk you through it."
That desire to share his passion for cooking sprang from a game he'd play with friends. He'd poke around their pantries and say: “Let’s make dinner.” If they said they had nothing to cook, he’d whip up a recipe with whatever items he found.
"Some of the best Italian dishes have two, three, or four ingredients," he says. "That simplicity helps people acquire new recipes."
Originally from Rhode Island, Lowenstein lived in Italy for 10 years, where he learned the language as well as how to cook. He's also lived in Israel, England, Ireland, and Slovenia. He moved to Oak Cliff this summer.
“I’ve done a lot of things in my life, and I picked up a lot of recipes along the way," he says.
In addition to items imported from Italy, the shop will carry products from vendors in the neighborhood, such as Peaberry Coffee and CocoAndre chocolates. There are also food-themed jigsaw puzzles and gift baskets.
Shelves loaded with Italian goods at Ari's Pantry.Ari's Pantry
“It will be a little bit of a lot of things until I see where the traffic goes,” Lowenstein says.
Ari's took over a 600-square-foot space previously occupied by a CBD shop, which Lowenstein lovingly renovated – going above and beyond what was required by the historical district designation, including installing period lights and conserving the original tin ceiling.
True to the old-world aesthetic, Lowenstein walks to work, which is blocks from his house in Winnetka Heights.
In addition to Ari’s Pantry, Lowenstein has a thriving catering service, teaches cooking classes, and fundraises for World Central Kitchen to provide meals across the globe.
“What I’m looking to do is introduce people to the real Italian cuisine and then help them make it," Lowenstein says. "Creating a community around Ari’s Pantry is something I am really excited about.”