It is a sad fact that the Boston area pales in comparison to New York City when it comes to authentic old-school Jewish delis. Sure, such places as Michael's Deli and Zaftigs are good Brookline options, Maxie's Deli in Stoughton is worth checking out if you live in the southern suburbs of the city, and Inna's Kitchen had been an excellent option in Newton Centre that is now in a new location closer to Brighton--and it has a stall in the Boston Public Market as well. Other than these places, you are mostly out of luck when it comes to old-school delis, that is, except for one little gem in the Waban section of Newton called Barry's Village Deli which has been around for nearly a half century and may just be the best of them all.
Barry's Village Deli is rather easy to miss, as it is located on a side street in the center of Waban, a sleepy little village that is a couple of minutes from Route 128, but in a rather out-of-the-way spot. Indeed, Barry's has been around for a very long time--since 1970, in fact--but it mostly seems to remain a secret among the townsfolk of Waban and the immediate area. Stepping into this bustling, sometimes hectic deli is like taking a really big step back in time, as the folks behind the counter seem to know many, if not most of the patrons here, and the place itself feels like it could be located on the Lower East Side of New York City back in the late 19th century or early 20th century.
It seems like a good number of people tend to do takeout at Barry's Village Deli, though there is a relatively small two-story dining section behind the counter area that has waiter service depending on what time of day you are eating there. But takeout does seem to be the norm here, as folks can be seen leaving with bags filled with all kinds of delicious deli food. And oh what food they have at Barry's; the chicken noodle soup may just be the best in all of the greater Boston area, while the rich-tasting matzo ball soup is similarly outstanding. The thick, meaty potato latkas are at least as good as those from the long-gone Harold's in the Mall at Chestnut Hill (which is saying a lot), the cheese blintzes are golden brown on the outside and filled with a sweet-tasting mix of cream cheese and cottage cheese, the house-made corned beef hash (which can be ordered as part of a breakfast plate) hints to the goodness of the corned beef here, and the knishes are flaky, slightly greasy, and delicious. One of the ultimate comfort foods--kasha varnishkas--is done nearly perfectly here, with just the right mix of bowtie noodles, buckwheat groats, and seasonings. The aforementioned corned beef sandwich rivals that of the best in Manhattan, as does the pastrami sandwich (which can be ordered extra lean), and even the relatively lowly egg salad sandwich is pretty special. And then there is the noodle pudding, which is dense, hearty, and creamy.
If you live in the Boston area and need a deli fix, you definitely need to take a trip to Waban to try Barry's Deli. In this writer's opinion, there is no place like it in the Greater Boston area, and while there are better delis in New York, it would definitely hold its own in the Big Apple.
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