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New Rosslyn Restaurant Takes ‘Americanized’ Approach to Lebanese Cuisine

by Heather Mongilio September 11, 2015 at 1:45 pm 1,994 0

(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) A D.C. based shawarma and falafel chain has opened up a new restaurant in Rosslyn.

Shawafel, which opened at 1919 Wilson Blvd on Monday, Sept. 7, is bringing an “Americanized” twist to traditional Lebanese cuisine, said co-owner Ali Amarlooi.

The new Rosslyn location is the third Shawafel location — there is one at Nationals Park and on H Street in northeast D.C. — but it will serve as the flagship as Shawafel becomes a franchise, Amarlooi said.

The new restaurant can currently sit 30 people, but will have a few more seats once their countertop seating opens, he said. Shawafel is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

“It is a fun place. We play good music and everyone seems to have fun working here,” he said.

Shawafel is named after one of the restaurant’s popular sandwiches, the Shawafel, which is chicken or meat shawarma, falafel, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, parsley and tahini, he said. The restaurant also offers a variety of meat, chicken and vegetarian sandwiches, as well as flatbreads, salads, hummus and platters.

“We have a very good vegetarian menu,” Amarlooi said.

For those new to Lebanese cuisine, Amarlooi recommends trying the Shawafel, the meat shawarma sandwich and shish Taouk sandwich, which is a “chunks of grilled chicken.” New customers should also try the cauliflower, falafel and Batinjan, crispy eggplant, sandwiches, as well as the hummus, cauliflower, Tabouleh salad and baba ghanouj, which is an eggplant dish, he said.

“Our meat shawarma is a combination of meat and lamb,” Amarlooi said. “It’s extremely juicy.”

The shawarma is cooked on large roasting sticks behind the checkout counter at the restaurant. It takes about 30-45 minutes to cook the meat and about five minutes to make and sandwich, he said.

Amarlooi and co-owner Alberto Sissi decided to open the restaurant in Rosslyn because of a sizable Middle Eastern population in Arlington, Amarlooi said.

“It fits our food because we’re trying to come as an Americanized version the Lebanese cuisine,” he said.

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