After visiting Global Villages on Grant Street yesterday, I figured that it was time to head over to B. Ferrante’s Italian Bakery (located right next door) earlier today. At first glance, the business doesn’t even resemble a bakery. That’s because all of the baking takes place off the premises at a nearby church commissary. That allows co-owner Sarah Gilmartin to do all of the baking in the evening and early morning, and all of the selling during the day. It’s also why the business looks so clean. It’s like walking into a boutique, but rather than picking up clothing, the customer is there shopping for cookies, cannoli shells, biscotti, cuccidati, pizzelle, focaccia, tomato pie, bâtards, baguettes… if they’re lucky. The reason that I say that is because later in the day the offerings get slimmer, especially in the savory case, which was completely empty by 3:30pm today. “We had a run on our savory selections,” Sarah told me. “We’ve been busy, and when fall gets here we’re going to be even busier. We’re planning on adding another case as customers begin to look for the heavier baked items… right now we’re concentrating on smaller and lighter for summer.”
While it may not look like there is an overwhelming selection of product in the store, what they do carry sells. “We really don’t have that much left at the end of the day,” said Sarah. “Right now our two best sellers are the (meatless) meatball cookies and the sesame cookies. The sesame cookies are an old world treat and they are hard to come by. The customers that have discovered that we carry them keep coming back. We’re out of our cuccidati today, but they will be back in tomorrow.”
B. Ferrante’s is tastefully put together. The space within the old building has come back to life once again, and shines as it once did with its high tin ceilings, transom windows and buffed wooden plank floors. A small seating area and decorative plants and flowers add a friendly warmth to the bakery’s showroom. As I stood, taking in all of the delights of the business, I couldn’t help but overhear a customer tell Sarah that her prices were too low. Sarah smiled and then laughed, happy to hear that the woman was willing to pay more, though at the same time she assured the two customers next in line that they were in no danger of a price hike (yet).
When visiting B. Ferrante’s, you might notice the various cookbooks on the shelves. Those cookbooks are from West Side Stories bookstore across the street, and just like Global Villages, Sarah is selling the books as part of an informal business support system. All the money goes to the bookstore. Rather than competing, the businesses on Grant Street are working together to make a go of it (strength in numbers).
From the store’s outward appearance with the whimsically painted foyer to the classic interior with simple mirrors and unassuming photos hanging on the wall, the rustic charm speaks of old world characteristics that compliment Grant Street’s rich history and bright future. It is the small businesses like this that are worth the effort to support, even when it might be more convenient to grab up a box of cookies at the market when shopping for dinner. Make it a point to swing by and pick up some of the most delicious baked goods, which are made fresh daily. Whether it’s a scoop of the moist homemade granola infused with local honey or a handful of clusters, B. Ferrante’s is truly a one of a kind Buffalo business. Stop in and see for yourself – you won’t be sorry, just satisfied.
B. Ferrante’s Italian Bakery (see history)
218 Grant Street