Paradise Roastery Is Indeed a Little Slice of Heaven

This South Side shop offers coffees, nuts, confections and more with the intricate flavors of the Middle East.

Aaron Saif; Photo by Chris Kessler

Paradise Roastery’s U-shaped counter takes up almost the whole shop (814 W. Layton Ave., 414-888-3443). Glass partitions separate the hungry-eyed customers from this curved road of bins brimming with roasted nuts, seed and nut mixes and other savory snacks. Brightly colored gummy candies, Turkish delights, nougats and other sweet confections beckon from neighboring containers.  

I sip Turkish coffee from a small paper cup that owner Ayman Saif, dressed in a white chef’s coat, offers me while I browse the tall shelves behind the counter, stocked with everything from boxed candies and jarred jams to coffee beans from Africa and the Middle East. Saif roasts the beans, nuts and seeds in stainless steel drums hidden in the back of the shop. Before opening the state’s only Arabic roaster less than six months ago, he came to Wisconsin with his family in 2017 from Jordan, where he spent over two decades running a wholesale roasting business and learning the intricacies of the craft. 


 

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Photo by Chris Kessler

From this vast selection of goods, I choose a half-pound of extra mixed nuts, some of the pieces meticulously roasted right in their shells, and a canister of za’atar, the spice mix that varies depending on where you go in the Middle East. Saif says he makes the za’atar blends himself and gives me a sample to taste. I let the heady mixture of toasted sesame seeds, tangy dried sumac and floral marjoram melt on my tongue. We chat about adding it to olive oil for a dip with flatbread.  

Before checking out, I add a few small, paper-wrapped squares of Jordanian dark chocolate to my bag, and later regret not buying more – they’re especially creamy and smooth for bittersweet chocolate. This little roasting boutique, presided over by an attentive master of the craft, is a shop like no other. 

Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m.


In the Box 

You know that rush of excitement you feel when you’re opening a box, even if you know what’s going to be in it? Gift that feeling (or help yourself to it) with one of these MKE-made food and drink subscriptions. 

Photo courtesy of Bronze Box

CHARCUTERIE CLUB • The folks at Bavette la Boucherie created this assortment of goodies (cheese, charcuterie, wine and more) that changes each month. In it, you may find house-made pâté or sausage paired with crackers, jams, mustard and pickles. Sign up for three, six or 12 months, $65 per month. (bavettelaboucherie.com)

BRONZE BOX • This local company, which highlights Black-owned businesses, has a Keep ’em Coming subscription that includes at least one food, drink and wellness item. Examples include Lush Popcorn, MKEing Coffee and Confectionately Yours cookies. $35 per month. (bronzeboxgifts.com

TABAL CHOCOLATE • The monthly sub hooks you up with three of Tosa-based Tabal’s micro-batch chocolate bars. The selections vary and could include a classic (70% cacao Costa Rica + sea salt) or a seasonal and rare bar like blood orange. Three, six or 12 months, $66-$250. (tabalchocolate.com)

 

 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.