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Since Italian immigrant Louis "Pop" Balducci opened his fruit and vegetable stand in Brooklyn circa 1915, the business has grown into a national chain known for fresh produce, choice cuts of meat and a vast variety of French, Italian and domestic cheeses. Cooks and bakers can find a trove of less common ingredients here—when a recipe calls for dried cranberries, unsweetened coconut or whole-wheat pastry flour, chances are good that Balducci's has it somewhere. But if you don't long to labor over your own risotto made from the store's Arborio rice, you can also buy a quality mix; likewise, temptingly fresh pasta, pre-made vodka sauce and tropically-hued fresh fruit salads are among the items beckoning the hungry wage slave over to the refrigerator case. Vats of cooked entrées—chicken parm, Portobello mushrooms and pasta—offer even easier evening meals. The shop caters, too.
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