I noticed this sign earlier in the week while driving down Needham St. in Newton and pulled in today when I had a few minutes to take a quick look.
This place is called "Baza" and is located in Newton off Needham St, tucked behind the Papa Gino's and Filene's Basement. You can't see it from the street but if you know the area, it's where Boston Baby used to be.
Inside is about the size of a smaller Trader Joe's (which is what I was kind of hoping for in product type) but it's quite different and I'm not sure how well it's going to do in this location and demographic. Think "Brookline's Bazaar" tries to "Whole-Food-ify" itself - a large produce department, lots and lots of imported Russian goods. All sorts of intersting items in the dairy department like a huge variety of yogurts and cheeses, bulk items like grains, rice, granolas, nuts and candy, organic (Amy's...) and foreign/imported frozen foods (like, an entire freezer full of various dumplings and blintzes of all types), a huge variety of fish, a sushi bar and a self-serve prepared hot and cold entrees and foods section - most items werey not labled though so for the unititiated like myself, it was hard to identify most of the offerings. Some things were obvious: there was rice, chicken and pork prepared several different ways, stuffed cabbage, various cooked sausage (one interesting type was super long and skinny like two feet of coiled up pencil), prepared vegetables, and lots of things I wasn't sure about: various meat or potato mixtured patties and breaded cutlets, blintzes with unknown fillings, etc. Also, since the store seemed very empty and new, I didn't feel confident puchasing foods from a steam table at 3 PM. There was a sign that said something like "1/2 Price 7 - 10 PM" but how long can the same pieces of chicken stay on a buffet steam table? And will they really toss the stuff at the end of the day and put out all fresh the next day? I doubt it, so how do I know that today's beef patty in gravy wasn't sitting on the steam table for 8 hours yesterday, too?
There were also olive and cold salads bar, pay by the pound/self serve but there were a few family groups standing around the hot and cold self serve bar, chatting and I'd imagine fingers borrowing a taste here, an olive there, which is what I don't like about those types of bulk service buffets. Sorry if I sound neurotic. I don't think I am excessively so but I still don't like to buy olives or roasted peppers if I see fingers going into the bowl rather than tongs.
They also had a baked goods area and wine and beer, lots of imported packaged goods, tons of those brightly colored wrapped imported candies and also lots of Russian printed colorfully and individually wrapped frozen ice cream treats that look like popular little kid fare.
Anyway, I just wanted to give you a heads up on this brand new place they are trying to style like a mini Whole Foods supermarket but they're not quite there. All the staff spoke Russian - I think the "Bazaar" works fine in Coolidge Corner and is in a small shop and 90% of the clientele are also Russian but at this location behind Filene's Basement, it's the ONLY grocery store nearby so they may need to try appeal a bit more to the typical Needham St. shopper who might be after more basic goods. Certainly they've got a great location and it's big and must be expensive to rent so I don't think they'll survive if they remain an extreme distination specialty store only and maintain language barrier issues. But who knows.
So head over there when you're in the neighborhood, and share what you think.
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