The Italian Store
Bob Tramonte, Owner
What was once a 7-11 in the Westover Shopping Center has transformed into the beautifully designed second location of The Italian Store, which opened in May 2015. The original Lyon Village location opened in 1980.
After opening in Westover, a customer thanked owner Bob Tramonte for coming to the neighborhood. "She said, 'this is the last neighborhood. If you look at strip shopping centers, they're filled with chain stores.'" Tramonte said, "We were really happy coming to another part of Arlington. The stores draw from different areas."
Many residents know they can pick up pizza by the slice or a whole pie as well as sandwiches and espresso. Both locations also carry a large selection of authentic Italian groceries. Tramonte says they always try to carry Italian products that are difficult to find. Customers can also find authentic Italian gelato at the Westover store and enjoy the outdoor patio.
One of Tramonte's biggest surprises has been the amount of groceries people are buying from both stores. "We were so fortunate with the food articles being written about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil and red wine." One customer told Tramonte that in the late 1970s the U.S. had 40,000 approved food additives. Italy had eight. "The Italian products are so far ahead of the curve," said Tramonte. He said the same is true for Italian wines as they are made with few additives.
Bottles of wine are organized by sections at the Westover location to reflect the twenty wine regions of Italy. The store hosts wine tastings every Friday from 6pm to 8pm and every Saturday from noon to 3pm. Tastings are run by wine distributors or a producer from Italy. A full-time sommelier can answer questions about pairing wines with meals. There's also a private wine tasting room that can be reserved for private events.
With limited parking available, much of the staff walks or takes the bus to the store. Tramonte loves having the store located in such a walkable community with several bus lines running along Washington Blvd. and two Metro stations within a mile or two. Tramonte touted the benefits of living in Westover; "You could live here and take Metro to a job in DC or Reston."