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Best places to buy pistachio nuts in the GTA , recommendations please?

I'm really tired of buying the pistachios at local supermarkets from California. Suggestions for the best places to find pistachios from Iran/Persia or other Middle-Eastern countries would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks! :)

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  1. I used to get mine at either Nasr Foods (now re-opened under another name), or Samara (I think that's the name) across the street from Nasr. Since both have closed, I also haven't found a new spot for fresh, Iranian pistachios. I'm going to go back up to Lawrence Ave. E. to try to scout out a new place. There's nothing like those small, Iranian pistachios when they are fresh. I don't blame you, YummyYummy, for not eating those stale supermarket nuts.
    I also tried the place (sorry, bad with names) north of Steeles, on the East side of Yonge which I think also is Iranian. It's a beautiful store with lots of nuts and dried fruits, but I found the saltiness too excessive--it almost tasted acidic--stinging my tongue.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Yongeman

      Nasr has re-opened as Rami. They are still renovating, but the stores is back to its old self in terms of stock. I presume pistachios are there in the 'wall of nuts'.

      I buy mine from the Asian supermarkets in the East end, although a Persian compatriot says they are awful. I like them though.

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      Rami's
      1996 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

      1. re: Paulustrious

        Stopped by Rami's today to get my Pistachio fix and the store is boarded up. Workers say it's being renovated by new owners and will open in 10 days. We'll see.

        BTW, Arz had two types of large salted pistachios (one type had large salt crystals) and both are excellent. Also try their delux nut mixes with pistachios, giant cashews, two types of almonds, and other nuts - very tasty but keep them hidden or they will disappear on you.

      2. re: Yongeman

        Samara is not only still open, but has fantastic nuts of all types and with varying levels of saltiness. West of Arz on the south side, almost beside the (justifiably) famous Shawarma Empire.

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        Arz
        1909 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

        Shawarma Empire
        1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

        1. re: Yongeman

          Thanks everyone for all the suggested places to buy good pistachios. Didn't get a chance to drop by Samara and check it out for pistachios, but I plan to next time I'm up at the Lawrence area again.

          Will definitely be returning to the area to buy a huge bag of the small pistachios that weren't too salty at Rami's for $7.99 per pound. Only bought a small bag to try them out because I made the big mistake afterwards with my visit to Arz. Stupidly, I bought a one pound bag of the most expensive bigger nuts sold for $21.90/kg and they were good, but too damn salty with the acidic taste.

          Arz, did have about 3 or 4 different types of pistachios where as Rami's only had the one selection. Wish I knew from the start that Rami's had the better tasting pistachios for my own taste buds. The nuts I bought at Arz were just as salty as typical California ones you find at the local supermarkets.

          My only complaint with the store Arz over Rami's was that you can not bag your own nuts. The nuts are behind the counter and the sales guy does it for you. For the time being, Rami's wins for me in the pistachio contest on Lawrence Avenue East until I've tried other stores on the strip.

          Ideally, I wanted the size of the nuts I bought at Arz, but the delicious subtle and not overpowering taste of the tiny pistachios bought at Rami's.

          Since I don't drive, sooner or later I'll have to convince one of my friends to go pistachio nut hunting with me for my first visit to Tavazo next time. :)

          -----
          Rami's
          1996 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

          Arz
          1909 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

          1. re: YummyYummy

            YY, Samara is closed, or it was the last time I tried to go there. I'm definitely going back to Rami's, though. When it was Nasr Foods, they used to have the freshest pita breads this side of Beirut. I'll get some pistachios while I'm there too.

            1. re: Yongeman

              Want to confirm 100% that Samara is still open. I dropped by for the first time earlier today and bought some pistachios priced at $8.99 per pound. Afterwards, I bought some of the fresh pita bread mentioned at Rami's along with some more amazing pistachios nuts priced at $7.99 per pound.

              Think I'm done with exploring the different stores along Lawrence Avenue East for the best pistachios. Although I've only been to 3 vendors: Rami's, Arz and Samara, I definitely found my personal favorite. Rami's is the WINNER and obvious choice for me, although I wish the nuts were bigger. Also, Rami's pistachios have a very unique and subtle taste and are not as salty as both Arz and Samara.

              Both Samara and Arz sell the bigger pistachios nuts which I like, but there is something about the acidity or saltiness that my body doesn't agree with. Maybe, it is the local roasting at these places that I'm sort of allergic to and it doesn't work for me. Who knows?

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              Rami's
              1996 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

              Arz
              1909 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

              1. re: YummyYummy

                I don't know what are you talking about. I went today to that Rami's store. The store is total crap. It's a supermarket selling everything and not specializing in bulk foods at all. Since I was really intrigued by reported $8 per pound pistachios I didn't look for any other prices. But as for pistachios, I can't believe that just 5 months they were selling them for 8$/lb. Right now they are selling pistachios in small plastic containers (pre-packaged) 250g for $8.99, which makes it $36 per kg. This is total bulshit. The store is dirty. And I drove there all the way from Missisauga because of your post. I tried calling them but they don't give prices over the phone. Anyway, never again and don't recommend to anyone. On a side note, before going to Scarborough, I looked up some other stores in that area. The site I'm referring to - "Best Bulk Food Stores in Toronto" - http://www.blogto.com/toronto/the_bes.... Another load of crap as it turns out. One of the stores listed there - Ladan Pastry and Nuts is located in the same plaza next to Rami's. Went in there. Raw pistachios were $35 /kg, sliced - $42 /kg. Nice friendly prices, yeah?

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                Rami's
                1996 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

                1. re: YummyYummy

                  I'm so glad that Samara is open. They have the BEST pistachios. They come in two levels of saltiness, too--lightly salted is amazing. Every nut in the last batch I bought was perfectly roasted and delicious. I highly recommend this place.

            2. re: Yongeman

              I believe that I have been to that large store that you named once when passing by more than a two years ago. Believe it or not, I also recall a small store in the same mall that sold sweets which sold pistachios that were excellent and unlike anything that I have had before. Check the mall out to see if they are still in business since I am not sure what the name was.

              1. re: Yongeman

                Stopped in at Rami's and Arz (both on Lawrence E), and picked up salted Iranian from each (8.99/lb). Rami's were slightly smaller and less salty and had a slightly better taste. I also tried the smaller Turkish Intabli from Arz ($11/lb - based on a recommendation from the shop keeper). All are good, but I find them all too dry and too roasted(?) for my liking.

                In any case, Arz is a great place to explore!

              2. Tavazzo - the Persian store by Yonge and Elgin Mills.Yes it does have an acidic taste - not sure if it is the local roasting flavor but they have so many types of Pistachios you can always try first before you buy.

                I have seen these nuts being sold at McEwan's as well - for double the price of course!

                13 Replies
                1. re: Royaljelly

                  Yeah, Tavazzo--that's the store I was referring to, royaljelly. What is that taste? Citric acid? Too bad, because the nuts have good flavour.

                  1. re: Yongeman

                    The acidity varies from one nut to another, all within the same bin! I don't mind it much now that I'm getting used to it. I can't eat regular pistachios anymore now that I've tasted the Tavazo ones. BTW, they sell many different size varieties as well as varying levels of saltiness. Their website is showing they carry 6 different kinds:

                    Pistachios 18/20 (Iranian)
                    Pistachios 20/22 (Iranian)
                    Pistachios Round (Iranian)
                    Pistachios (California)
                    Pistachios Kernel (Iranian)
                    Pistachios Slivered (Iranian)

                    They also have these 1" long black sunflower seeds that are very addictive too.

                    To clarify, I go to Tavazo on Yonge North of Steeles, not elgin mills.

                    7345 Yonge Street
                    Thornhill, ON L3T 2B3
                    (905) 763-1855

                    I also tried the ones from Arz on Lawrence but the Tavazo ones seemed fresher.

                    1. re: Royaljelly

                      I'll have to try them again. I know that the quality of the nuts was excellent, but the mouth sensation is as if I'd eaten tons of them....sort of a 'salt-burn'.

                      1. re: Yongeman

                        Go for the low salt ones, or grab a nice cold beer to wash down that burn! :)

                        1. re: Royaljelly

                          I like the way that you think, Royaljelly. (Do they have a low-salt option?)

                      2. re: Royaljelly

                        it is indeed the local flavour that you find acidic. I can't imagine pistachios any other way though. Tavazzo has good but not first class pistachios. My personal supply comes directly from Tehran, and it is very close to heaven

                          1. re: shekamoo

                            Shekamoo, please recommend Iranian restaurants in Toronto. I still dream of Paradise (in Washington D .C.)

                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                              Unfortunately, there is nothing in Toronto comparable to Paradise, based on what I have head about Paradise.I have always said that, in general, the Iranian food offered in Toronto is a disgrace on the cuisine. Pomegranate on College and Bathurst has generally acceptable food for Toronto, but it is not very authentic. uptown, Shomal (North) restaurant in the plaza on Steeles just West of Yonge is capable of producing good north Iranian food on a good day(e.g. Kabob Torsh is pretty good), but it has consistency issues: www.shomalrestaurant.com

                        1. re: Yongeman

                          From what I could gather, Tavazo has various types of pistachios, including a sour version with lemon juice- maybe you got that kind, Yongeman.

                          1. re: Wiley

                            That's possible, Wiley. I'll have to revisit and sample while I'm there ; ) .

                            1. re: Yongeman

                              Apparently, sampling is not frowned upon there.

                              1. re: Wiley

                                Especially at the Yonge/Clark location, where the service is exemplary. Whereas the northern location is standoff-ish, at best. Anyway, the pistachios are excellent here (and rarely an unopenable one in the bunch), as is much of the other selection -- try the dried raspberries for sure. There's another good Persian place for pistachios near the north Tavazo - on Levendale off Yonge across from the No Frills. Store name starts with an 'H', I think.

                      3. In the St. Lawrence Market beside the Carousel bakery, they have pistachios from Iran.

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                        St. Lawrence Market
                        92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Musta

                          Tried the Iranian and California pistachios recently from the SLM (top floor) and found the quality has been deteriorating over the years and the price is very high.

                        2. The Roasted Nut Factory is Lebanese owned I believe, and it's in Mississauga. Been there twice in the last few months and theres tons of good stuff there. They roast everything in-store. Check it out!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: duckdown

                            You are right The Roasted Nut Factory is a great find at 2399 Cawthra Road (Mississauga) iust a bit north of The Queensway. It is on the east side in an industrial complex composed of two bright green buildings. You won't be disappointed with the prices or the selection even though the store front is small and cramped.

                            1. re: mossiecat

                              you're right!
                              the roasted nut factory on 2399 cawthra road is great
                              i went today and id like to tell who ever payed $8.99 /lb at samara roasted nut at the raaosted nut factory on cawthra they sell what they call Akbari pistachio at $7.50 /lb and any kind of roasted almond ( they have 8 kinds of different flavours) $6.00/lb ! Jumbo cashews (which i was really shocked from the price) was ONLY $7.00/lb! and i use to pay $11.99/lb at other places. All the nuts there are freshly made everyday and if you go during the day you will be able to try the nuts that came straight out from the roaster! the owners there are very welcoming and they have one rule I really like " Try and Buy!" (unlike the stores that charge you if you wanna try or they dont even let you try !) they're very loving people and i am exited to go back every week for more NUTS!

                              1. re: tool5

                                I agree about the nuts being great. That whole plaza/ complex is quite interesting. Stopped in a shop with a 'falafel' sign in the window and ended up with a nice, earthy sandwich. Swell cheeze for home as well.

                          2. I buy mine at Arz: http://www.arzbakery.com/

                            -----
                            Arz
                            1909 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

                            1. I haven't tried the pistachios everyone else is talking about, but I have bought them at ..loblaws! (and ValueMart) They're good. They're packaged as a PC product I believe, and come two ways, vacuum packed in bags -- salted or unsalted, and I've been very happy with them. I'll have to try others for comparison, but these are very tasty, fresh and delicious -- and no special trip required.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: graciegayle

                                Saw fresh pistachios Friday at Town and Country Market in Mississauga.

                              2. the Nuthouse. bloor and emerson

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: chocohead

                                  This is a very old thread but The Roasted Nut Factory at 2399 Cawthra Road (Mississauga) iust a bit north of The Queensway is still fantastic!

                                  1. re: justsayn

                                    Never been there. What's their story ? Is it a store, bulk outlet, processor, or all the above ? What type of Pistachios do they have (Iranian, California, ) ?

                                    I have never had luck with bulk nuts (even from those places on Baldwin in Kensington Mkt that one would think have good volume turnover). Products look good, but always taste stale and like mixed spices. I also avoid those bins at the entrance of Arz on Lawrence since I'm convinced that is the old stuff from the counter in the back

                                    1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                      Yes. All of the above, but first and foremost a roaster/distributor.

                                      I go there for the cashews mostly. I have yet to know a person who doesn't feel that they take the cashew to a new level with the depth of flavour and of course the freshness.

                                      I believe the pistachios are Iranian only, but they may also carry US from time to time. They are very good and freshly made but I have had great pistachios from a lot of places over the years so they are not as unusual as the cashews are.

                                      There is a great sausage maker/butcher in the same strip mall and one across the street so it is a great spot to do some specialty shopping. In fact, there is another food outlet (pita bakery I think) or two which I haven't investigated.

                                      1. re: justsayn

                                        Wow Thanks !

                                        Mmmmmmm cashews....

                                        Most cashews are OK but kinda bland and buttery, but I have had a roasted nutty version before which I prefer. Can't wait to try RNF's version.

                                        1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                          This is the roasted nutty type. On the rare occassion that I have found them to be just a bit over-roasted and strong, I've asked for a different batch from the back : ) They are super friendly and accommodating.

                                          1. re: justsayn

                                            Hi justsayn,

                                            Made it to the Roasted Nut Factory last Friday.

                                            Very nice people, and excellent nuts. Tried the single and the double roasted Cashews. Both were fantastic, but I especially liked the double roast. Also bought three of the four varieties of pistachios (didn't buy the lemon and really really liked the extra salty ones). All were great and only $7.50 / lb. Ended up mixing them together for a nice blend.

                                            Also tried their hot mix (kind of an Indian style mixture) and it was one of the best I've had.

                                            Nice find, thanks for the tip. No more bulk stuff with questionable shelf time for me.

                                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                              So glad it worked out. Now I am due for a visit ; )

                                2. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Johnvince on Steeprock in North York. Not only pistachios at reasonable cost, but virtually every other sweet or spicy snack imaginable. A real fun place to shop.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Doctormhl1

                                    Hmmm I'll have to try Johnvince. I usually get my pistachios at The Big Carrot on the Danforth. I use them in my 8-nut breakfast mixture that I put in my oatmeal and do find it a pain to shell them all. Does anyone have pistachio nuts that are shelled already or is that not possible because keeping them in the shell preserves freshness?

                                    No doubt if shelled were acceptable then the extra charge due to labour might be horrendous.

                                    1. re: Flexitarian

                                      If I recall correctly, Flex, you hate bins. Unless JV has gone back to their roots when the place was always clean and product fresh (80/90s), you will most definitely be turned off by soggy food, huge bottomless bins and those simply left uncovered!

                                      1. re: justsayn

                                        I don`t hate the bins themselves, lol, just hate what people do with them. The stuff I have seen little kids do and grown ups do with the stuff in those bins would make your skin crawl. The same with those salad bars where the spoon that has been held by people`s hot sticky fingers can fall right into the food that you then eat.

                                        Sorry for the `gross`-factor in my post, but just think about it for a moment! Having been ill for 18 mos from food eaten from one of those corner store hot food bars in NYC 15 years ago (which the NY Times did a huge warning type article about years ago) does that to ya.

                                        1. re: Flexitarian

                                          I fall between yourself and those who don't give it a second thought. The bins and food at Bulk Barn at Leslie St for instance are kept pristine always and they go through big volume. Even then, I stay away from their items that I sense don't turn over often. But the uncovered bins at JV, and their huge bins where you wonder what lurks beneath the fresher product on top freaks me out.

                                          RE: NYC - I totally get it but my experience involves tequila.