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Balducci's, Several Area Locations


VandyHoo
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Received this via email today....

JPI, Balducci’s, Madison Retail,

& the DC Office of Planning & Economic Development

Announce the Opening of a 21,000-Square-Foot Balducci’s

Specialty Grocery Store

in the First Quarter of 2006

at the Clara Barton in Penn Quarter

at 7th and E streets, NW

52 dedicated parking spaces will be available for customers

The store will feature gourmet foods, hard-to-find ingredients, seasonal and artisanal products,

chef-prepared meals, and a full compliment of everyday items

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I am burying this topic here rather than starting a new thread since I'd like to know whether anyone else has heard anything about the pending demise of Balducci's.

I was just speaking to someone at Whole Foods who used to work for Balducci's. He said his former co-workers are looking to make the same move he did since they suspect the store at Sutton Place is going to be around for maybe two more months at the most.

Confirmations?

Denials?

Is this a local thing...or as implied, is it <<Arrivederci, Balducci's!>> all over again?

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I am burying this topic here rather than starting a new thread since I'd like to know whether anyone else has heard anything about the pending demise of Balducci's.

I was just speaking to someone at Whole Foods who used to work for Balducci's.  He said his former co-workers are looking to make the same move he did since they suspect the store at Sutton Place is going to be around for maybe two more months at the most.

Confirmations?

Denials?

Is this a local thing...or as implied, is it <<Arrivederci, Balducci's!>> all over again?

They did just pull out of their agreement to open a store at Penn Quarter this week....
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I was just speaking to someone at Whole Foods who used to work for Balducci's. He said his former co-workers are looking to make the same move he did since they suspect the store at Sutton Place is going to be around for maybe two more months at the most.

For the record: This was a mere rumor, probably based on the fact that Balducci's pulled out of plans for a store on 7th.

I just got off the phone with someone at Balducci's who is fairly new and formerly of Whole Foods. They're expanding, she claims.

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Second topic: Balducci's. Any opinions about this store?

As far as the area's "gourmet" specialty shops go, it pales in comparison to Dean & DeLuca. This is a category of store I rarely visit.

What I do appreciate are Italian imports. Le Valle canned tomatoes are the main reason I bother to shop here. Balducci's is the only retail store in town that carries Prosciutto San Daniele (not to be confused with the company "San Daniele" that sells packaged slices of cured meats) from Friuli and not just Prosciutto di Parma. (I wasn't at all crazy about the imported prosciutto cotto that I tasted.)

A huge can of salt-packed Sicilian anchovies sells for only $10. I did not recognize the name of the manufacturer, but it was less than half the price I paid for a known brand at Vace.

I found Vialone Nano rice for risotto and fregole from Sardinia.

Produce was mixed, but the favas looked good and were priced lower than WF ($2 a lb.) and there were actually some Cara-Cara oranges.

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Second topic: Balducci's. Any opinions about this store?

As far as the area's "gourmet" specialty shops go, it pales in comparison to Dean & DeLuca. This is a category of store I rarely visit.

What I do appreciate are Italian imports. Le Valle canned tomatoes are the main reason I bother to shop here. Balducci's is the only retail store in town that carries Prosciutto San Daniele (not to be confused with the company "San Daniele" that sells packaged slices of cured meats) from Friuli and not just Prosciutto di Parma. (I wasn't at all crazy about the imported prosciutto cotto that I tasted.)

A huge can of salt-packed Sicilian anchovies sells for only $10. I did not recognize the name of the manufacturer, but it was less than half the price I paid for a known brand at Vace.

I found Vialone Nano rice for risotto and fregole from Sardinia.

Produce was mixed, but the favas looked good and were priced lower than WF ($2 a lb.) and there were actually some Cara-Cara oranges.

Balducci's carries some high quality products, but it has to have the most obnoxious, arrogant, and customer-unfriendly staff that I have ever encountered in a food store. I have always found what I needed there, but experiences at both the New Mexico Avenue store and the Old Georgetown Pike store deter me from shopping there except in dire necessity. We went to the New Mexico Ave store to buy pastries for a dinner party, only to have the two employees behind the counter barely make eye contact and then return to their (overheard) personal discussion; they never further acknowledged our presence until I was forced to raise my voice in amazement. At the Old Georgetown Pike store, I stopped in to get get some steaks from the meat counter. The four people behind the counter ignored my obvious presence, preferring instead to stay engaged in an animated discussion about a posted notice of a prospective employee meeting. Good luck.

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Balducci's carries some high quality products, but it has to have the most obnoxious, arrogant, and customer-unfriendly staff that I have ever encountered in a food store. I have always found what I needed there, but experiences at both the New Mexico Avenue store and the Old Georgetown Pike store deter me from shopping there except in dire necessity. We went to the New Mexico Ave store to buy pastries for a dinner party, only to have the two employees behind the counter barely make eye contact and then return to their (overheard) personal discussion; they never further acknowledged our presence until I was forced to raise my voice in amazement. At the Old Georgetown Pike store, I stopped in to get get some steaks from the meat counter. The four people behind the counter ignored my obvious presence, preferring instead to stay engaged in an animated discussion about a posted notice of a prospective employee meeting. Good luck.

I live very close to the Balducci's on Old Georgetown, so it is convenient for items forgotten at the last minute or when I just need 1 thing. But I too have had issues with their employees. I was ordering something from the bakery/pastry, and there was no one else around. Not one single person behind the counter made eye contact with me or asked me if I needed help until I asked for help. I couldn't believe it. But, on the other hand, yesterday I need artichokes, and wanted to get them the day I was cooking them, so I went to Balducci's. There weren't any out; I asked the person at the special orders desk, and she actually went in the back to check--a shipment had come in that day and that they hadn't put them out yet. But the help there can be hit or miss; and unlike Giant or WF, most of the time if you ask someone where something is they don't know if it is outside of their assigned department.

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Strange. I have always had very nice service at the New Mexico Ave. Balduccis. When I was pregnant, I went in a couple of times and the ladies behind the pastry counter were always so helpful and even slipped in a few extra treats for me :) . Then, after I had the baby, I was in again and they approached me and asked me how the baby was. I was shocked only because I am not a regular, just an occasional customer.

I am surprised at the negative experiences of others.

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I DID ask about Balducci's many posts ago, but the ensuing discussion has been primarily about the availability of Prosciutto San Daniele and Whole Foods instead.

Thanks for drawing my attention to two posts I overlooked, this being the first:

Balducci's carries some high quality products, but it has to have the most obnoxious, arrogant, and customer-unfriendly staff that I have ever encountered in a food store. I have always found what I needed there, but experiences at both the New Mexico Avenue store and the Old Georgetown Pike store deter me from shopping there except in dire necessity. We went to the New Mexico Ave store to buy pastries for a dinner party, only to have the two employees behind the counter barely make eye contact and then return to their (overheard) personal discussion; they never further acknowledged our presence until I was forced to raise my voice in amazement. At the Old Georgetown Pike store, I stopped in to get get some steaks from the meat counter. The four people behind the counter ignored my obvious presence, preferring instead to stay engaged in an animated discussion about a posted notice of a prospective employee meeting. Good luck.
Jennifer also replied, supporting David's comments based on her own bad experiences.

I rarely shop at Balducci's, but now, like Joe H., make trips for specific items, such as Le Valle's canned tomatoes.

I have never had problems with surly staff, only with the fact that the store has been understaffed during my occasional trips, so finding someone to slice the San Daniele has been a problem.

I am going to look through past threads, but I think it might be useful to devote a new one exclusively to good places to find Italian items.

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I've always had perfectly fine service at the New Mexico Ave. Balducci's/Sutton Place Gourmet. Usually excellent, in fact, from the meat counter and cheese counter people.
Meat guy was quite nice though we had no time to chat. Waitman & I picked up at prettily marbled rib-eye that Nora was eager to season for our meal this evening. I will report back.

Service was quite fine for me. But do bear in mind that we arrived at 7:00 pm before a long weekend and that the upper crust had already decamped so it's possible that the stress created by the entitled asshole factor was reduced by the time we got there. O and isn't school (AU) out? What difference would that make?

P.S. Fava's not so good. Keeping fingerst crossed for Dupont on Sunday.

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"stress created by the entitled asshole factor."

I am jealous!!! This is hyperbole that I would welcome and be honored to have expressed as my own! Imaginative, descriptive, succinct: Henry Miller would be proud of pronouncing such a perfect appellation!!!

I applaud your expository skill!

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I second the kudos, Mrs. B.

When I mentioned rather vaguely that I don't shop at places like D & D and Balducci's all that much, it was essentially for a reason I would have attributed to class. However, you are both more direct and more accurate.

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A huge can of salt-packed Sicilian anchovies sells for only $10. I did not recognize the name of the manufacturer, but it was less than half the price I paid for a known brand at Vace.
What is the manufacturer's name, and did you find this can with the other anchovies and sardines? I was there on Saturday and couldn't find any huge cans around.

Thanks to Balducci's, I've been enjoying the goodness that is Capogiro for the last several days. The blood orange sorbet is by far the most refreshing thing I've had since the fresh mint and the tarragon with pink pepper gelati at il laboratorio del gelato.

Totally worth the splurge. I also got the sesame ginger gelato, can't wait to dig in.

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What is the manufacturer's name, and did you find this can with the other anchovies and sardines? I was there on Saturday and couldn't find any huge cans around.

You know, the store just rearranged everything, thus dividing up the Italian things. Category of food products vs. origin seems to be the guiding principle, so you'll find these cans virtually obscured on the top wire shelf facing the seafood. Pasta's now over by jams and cookies instead of next to canned tomatoes, prosciutto and wine and less likely to spark inspiration for a quick dinner. Go figure.

I didn't recall brand when I posted. It was a white can, not half as attractive as my "Agostino Recca" (as featured in a photo in Molto Italiano, and emptied, scrubbed and now, odor-free on the top of one of my bookcases). I believe the can at Balducci's was also Sicilian, although I have been told there are some Spanish brands that have been judged as superior. I have no way of knowing if the lower price signifies quality, or one would hope, its newness to the US market and lesser prestige.

I recall the individually sold, pricey anchovies at Dean & DeLuca's as being the best of the two kinds I've purchased here: bigger, fatter and more meaty. However, mine are more than just fine and a whole lot better than the Moroccan pee wees in flat tins, although, quite frankly, I have never met an anchovy that didn't warm my heart.

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Jar of Maille cornichons ran out so I reached for the spare in my pantry. Gah. Balducci's brand cornichons are disgusting - little flavor and a foul mushy texture.

Come to think of it, every house brand thing I've tried there has suh-uh-ucked. Way to go, Sutton Place.

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A huge can of salt-packed Sicilian anchovies sells for only $10. I did not recognize the name of the manufacturer, but it was less than half the price I paid for a known brand at Vace.

I finally managed to track one down at Balducci's. The brand name is Scalia Benedetto, and wow the can is large. Does anyone have tips on how to store anchovies once the can has been opened? There is no way I will be able to use them all at once.

Latest Capogiro gelato flavors that I've tried: Lemon yogurt (ultra-creamy with just the right amount of tang), Lancaster County meadow mint with stracciatella (blows any mint chocolate chip ice cream out of the water), and chocolate hazelnut (even better than Nutella, if that's possible). I also tried the lime cilantro sorbet, which was merely decent. Not enough cilantro flavor, and not nearly as good as the blood orange sorbet.

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That utterly sucks. Totally, ballistically sucks. The Wesley Heights Balducci's and the Sutton Place store that preceded it has been my ace-in-the-hole, if-all-else-fails-I-can-always-pay-more-and-get-it-there go-to jewel in my back pocket for decades now. Sucks sucks sucks. Sucks!

Zora: If you're specifically concerned about Nueske's bacon, I saw it today at the Van Ness Giant, which since its renovation and expansion is probably the best all-purpose, non-Whole-Foods supermarket in the city.

But the Balducci's news fucking sucks.

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Dean & DeLuca, if nothing else, has Lewes Dairy cream.
True, but parking in Georgetown is a major p.i.t.b. not to mention De&DeL's prices. The last time I looked, they were charging $7.99 for a small tub of Vermont Creamery creme fraiche, the same one that Trader Joe's sells for $3.49 and Balducci's was charging $3.99 for--they had actually lowered a lot of their prices to bring them more in line with Whole Foods'.
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True, but parking in Georgetown is a major p.i.t.b. not to mention De&DeL's prices. The last time I looked, they were charging $7.99 for a small tub of Vermont Creamery creme fraiche, the same one that Trader Joe's sells for $3.49 and Balducci's was charging $3.99 for--they had actually lowered a lot of their prices to bring them more in line with Whole Foods'.
It's not very close to you, but Bowers cheese shop at Eastern Market has the Lewes heavy cream. I'm not sure if they have creme fraiche, but the Marvelous Market across the street usually stocks it, if you wanted to do one stop shopping in that area. It might be the Vermont Creamery, but I'm not sure. Also not sure of the price.
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It's not very close to you, but Bowers cheese shop at Eastern Market has the Lewes heavy cream. I'm not sure if they have creme fraiche, but the Marvelous Market across the street usually stocks it, if you wanted to do one stop shopping in that area. It might be the Vermont Creamery, but I'm not sure. Also not sure of the price.
I get down to Eastern Market only once in a blue moon, but thanks for reminding me about the cheese shop there. Creme fraiche isn't really an issue, since I can get that at Trader Joe's. And TJ's also has Garlick Farms heavy cream, which isn't as good as Lewes Dairy, but isn't bad--at least it's not ultra-pasteurized. Lewes Dairy cream is just emblematic of the many high-end products that are hard to find all in one place that's five minutes from my house and has convenient free parking, like the New Mexico Avenue Balducci's.
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I get down to Eastern Market only once in a blue moon, but thanks for reminding me about the cheese shop there. Creme fraiche isn't really an issue, since I can get that at Trader Joe's. And TJ's also has Garlick Farms heavy cream, which isn't as good as Lewes Dairy, but isn't bad--at least it's not ultra-pasteurized. Lewes Dairy cream is just emblematic of the many high-end products that are hard to find all in one place that's five minutes from my house and has convenient free parking, like the New Mexico Avenue Balducci's.
If I had something that good close by and lost it, I'd be unhappy too :rolleyes:.
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Not really sure if this post should be here, or in the FO thread here, but this is the first I've heard about who has purchased Balducci's. I thought I had heard they were heading toward filing for bankruptcy? Or maybe I'm making that up, as my memory has been playing weird tricks on me lately.

Alexandria

If our Balducci's winds up closing, does Farrah Olivia necessarily go with it?

Morou:

Balducci's, who is our landlord has been purchased by a company that owns King Grocery in New Jersey. I assume this is why they decided not to renew our lease. We don't know whether they will keep the name Balducci's but we assume that they want to expand the store to be able to compete with larger Markets such as Whole Foods.

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I am looking for good, nearby places to source fish of all kinds as my goal is to eat more. I have a Whole Foods and a Balducci's close to where I live in Alexandria/Fairfax and so far, WF has been good for some seafood, and not so good for other seafood (mussels). So, I'm wondering if anyone has an opinion about Balducci's seafood department(s).

Any experiences?

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The one near me (Bethesda) has great seafood, but it's ridiculously expensive when not on sale.

But really, is there such a thing as great seafood that isn't ridiculously expensive? Every time I've walked past the fish counter in regular grocery stores (including WF) and ethnic stores, I'm too nauseated by the smell to even think of eating fish for a week.

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A&H in Bethesda, since Santi Zabaleta took it over, is a good place to buy fish and shellfish at reasonable prices. Before Santi, the place used to have a horrible smell which did not inspire confidence--from badly stored bacalao-- but it's a whole different place now. I always ask "what came in today?" before deciding what to buy.

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I am looking for good, nearby places to source fish of all kinds as my goal is to eat more. I have a Whole Foods and a Balducci's close to where I live in Alexandria/Fairfax and so far, WF has been good for some seafood, and not so good for other seafood (mussels). So, I'm wondering if anyone has an opinion about Balducci's seafood department(s).

Any experiences?

Every time I've walked past the fish counter in regular grocery stores (including WF) and ethnic stores, I'm too nauseated by the smell to even think of eating fish for a week.

I've had good luck at the Glebe Rd. Harris Teeter - no smell and lots of times whats on sale just came in and its a lot cheaper than WF. Some is previously frozen, but not all.

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I continue to be disappointed by Balducci's in Old Town every time I go, yet I forget to learn my lesson and stop going.  I mostly go to pick up something to eat before a board meeting.  I sometimes get something pre-packaged and sometimes I make a salad from the salad bar.  I find their salad bar somewhat disjointed from one section to the other, but you can put together and ok salad with some decent things- I made a Mediterranean salad the other night that hit the spot.  I find their selection of dressings a little on the heavy side, but they did have a nice tahini one the other day.  I am always hoping their hot bar has something interesting, but last time it was a taco bar, and not a good one... Their pre-made salad selections never seem to have the right combo of things I want, they all lack like one item I would want (their grape, pecan doesn't have blue cheese, one other that sometimes looks good, I always think, if this just had chicken).  I like the grab and go section at Society Fair much better, but I feel like a jerk to be first person to park in the shoulder lane, and sometimes it is dangerous right after 6:00 pm when people are still zooming down that lane, and there isn't always parking on Duke.  The garage at Balducci's lures me in. 

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Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market Kicks Off Weeklong Opening Celebration by RestonNow

The grand opening celebration kicked off at 11 a.m. today with a champagne sabering, live music and a ceremony led by Judy Spires, CEO of Balducci’s. During the weeklong celebration from Friday (June 22) through July 1, there will be a 10 percent discount on all purchase. Tastings and demonstration will also be held throughout the week. Today, around 400 additional parking spaces will be available for customers.

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On 6/22/2018 at 12:56 PM, Ferris Bueller said:

Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market Kicks Off Weeklong Opening Celebration by RestonNow

The grand opening celebration kicked off at 11 a.m. today with a champagne sabering, live music and a ceremony led by Judy Spires, CEO of Balducci’s. During the weeklong celebration from Friday (June 22) through July 1, there will be a 10 percent discount on all purchase. Tastings and demonstration will also be held throughout the week. Today, around 400 additional parking spaces will be available for customers.

So I just went by and 1st impression was this is a small store.  There were about 10 cars in the reserved parking area which is free to Balducci's customers (head's up they are located on the 2nd floor) which requires elevator access to the store at ground level.  I did not see anywhere close to 400 parking spaces for customers, and if there were 400 people in there, you would be packed in like gourmet sardines.  There were certainly more employees than customers at 5:15 PM on a Thursday.

Having frequented the McLean store and prior Reston location, perhaps my expectations skewed.  They are catering to the pedestrian crowd from the vertical buildings @ RTC, which makes immediate sense, but may be a too targeted a market, hence the direct mail I have been getting hammered with the past 3 weeks.   

Plenty of prepared foods, however the fresh seafood and meat selections have been minimized.  Sushi chef was making rolls and case was well-stocked.  The wine selection area was underwhelming.  From my perspective, WF takes this category for boutique shopping experiences in the area.  More direct entry/exit at Plaza America and if you need wine, you can hit the new Total without moving your car.

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We've gone many times as the parking spaces are easy to use and not an issue. Agree that it is a smaller store in many ways and unfortunately the quality at the hot bar is not up to the standards at the McLean or Bethesda stores. However the sushi counter is still very good and in a way probably is the best sushi in Reston! 

I'm not sure but it seems like Balducci's is lowering the quality some of the meats and seafood to bring down the costs to be more competitive with the other local grocery chains. 

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18 hours ago, slitton said:

Can anyone recommend another supermarket that is on par with Balducci's or better (in DC or the Maryland suburbs)? I've been going to Balducci's for years, but am looking for some alternatives, ideally a market with a good butcher.

 

Organic Butcher of McLean. 

Also Balducci's stopped using a cheaper kind of salmon and is back to the higher quality one. 

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22 hours ago, slitton said:

Can anyone recommend another supermarket that is on par with Balducci's or better (in DC or the Maryland suburbs)? I've been going to Balducci's for years, but am looking for some alternatives, ideally a market with a good butcher.

 

Try Butchers Alley on Bethesda Ave across from the Bethesda Crab House and Pescadeli which their seafood market. Very high quality local meats. They also have lots of cheese and other things in the market. Great sandwiches made to order as well.

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