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Bibi Cafe and Bakery Offers Delicious Baked Goods, Old World Charm in Westwood, Massachusetts

Cake pops from Bibi Cafe and Bakery in Westwood, Massachusetts
Cake pops from Bibi Cafe and Bakery.

Article and photos by Eric Hurwitz. Page created on 9/7/17.

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I sometimes wonder what happened to good old fashioned bakeries in the neighborhood.

Today, many places might have the skill to come up with great baked goods, but the attitude and high prices have an off taste. The there are the bakeries that use the cheapest ingredients possible and while their sweets might taste good on first bite, stomach upset and a bad taste in the mouth follow within 20 minutes. Other places the hard, but just don't have the talent to deliver on potential.

In other words, no balance exists in too many modern day bakeries. Everything seems forgettable and unforgettable in a bad sense, instead of memorable.

Growing up in the 1970s, we had this amazing place called Helen's Bakery in Arlington, Mass. I remember going there with my mom and dad and getting excited upon first sight of the blue-colored storefront. Once opening the screen door and entering what was the welcoming equivalent of a grandmother who loved to cook in her kitchen, the magic of this place was always constant. The aromas that came out of Helen's Bakery are forever remembered. Nice, old ladies selling comfort food that made us happy -- before we knew it was bad for you. We're still wondering who Helen was, though. I think they were all Helens -- that being a nice, friendly name. The group of Helen's always gave us free samples, fresh out of the kitchen. They were like our unofficial second family, and the childhood memories never went away. Those memories also set high standards in finding other great bakeries after Helen's closed many years ago.

Moving forward to today, I never quite found that bakery magic of Helen's until recently visiting Bibi Cafe and Bakery in Westwood, Mass.

Bibi Owner Fataneh Dowlatshahi, one of the nicest people you will ever meet, has brought a true artistry to her beautiful bakery in Westwood, drawing upon years of baking experience and culinary inspiration from her native land of Persia. Her grace, goodness, care for others, strong work ethic and culinary talent make one who comes to Bibi glad that she chose America as her homeland.

Focusing on natural and organic sourcing and believing in the magical powers of cooking from scratch and creativity, Fataneh and staff clearly have one of the best bakeries in eastern Massachusetts. While the organic carrot jam and gaata -- an Armenian-based sweet bread stuffed with butter and sugar -- serve as nexuses to the past, Dowlatshahi’s menu features traditional bakery and cafe favorites done with craft and flair  Some of the standouts: homemade breads, muffins, scones, carrot cake, cake pops, pies, doughnuts cakes, cookies, mini cheesecakes, salads, soups sourced locally, veggie burgers, organic teas and juices, and smoothies, as well as locally-roasted coffee that permeates the quaint 500 square ft. dining room. The chocolate chip Nutella rugelach, in particular, is to die for -- rich in flavor and satisfying in texture but not too heavy-tasting as fresh, natural ingredients take the center stage over unhealthy oils and artificial flavors that otherwise dominate the baked goods industry, in general.

Delicious rugelach from Bibi Cafe and Bakery in Westwood, Massachusetts
Rugelach from Bibi Cafe in Westwood.

The spotlessly clean upstairs kitchen validates Dowlatshahi’s statement of baking and cooking in small batches while revealing the culinary magic behind the final products seen by customers at the main floor dining room.

Fataneh has drawn upon warm childhood memories from what she refers to as Persia -- known today as Iran --  to creating BiBi Cafe and Bakery since its opening about three years ago. Named after her great-grandmother and further inspired by a Tehran neighborhood bakery that virtually seemed like a second home, the meaningful foundation and story behind BiBi Cafe and Bakery creates a homey, welcoming vibe offering food clearly made from love and an homage to timeless memories.

Bibi Cafe and Bakery in Westwood, Massachusetts offers fresh soupsFataneh Dowlatshahi with daily, homemade fresh soups.

“Starting at about seven-years-old, I used to go to this small neighborhood bakery (in Tehran) owned by a couple,” said the “fifty-something” Dowlatshahi. “It was such a nice, special place and I also remember they had this little garden with herbs and they would take me back there. Those were such, sweet happy memories.”

While Bibi Cafe and Bakery differs from Helen's in that they serve breakfast, lunch and 21st century offerings like smoothies, the connection is undeniable as the magic begins once entering the cozy dining room. The yellow exterior replaces Helen's blue storefront and the cozy dining room with seating and a sleek, clean look and feel different than the Arlington bakery's louder, more dusty appearance where the ordering counter and kitchen were virtually on top of each other -- and with beautiful music masters like Bert Kaempfert playing on the radio in the background on WJIB FM. I also like Fataneh's welcoming touches like welcoming words in several languages painted on the steps leading to the second floor kitchen.

Dining room at Bibi Cafe and Bakery in Westwood, Massachusetts
Dining room with welcoming steps at Bibi Cafe and Bakery.

Bibi Cafe and Bakery in Westwood, Massachusetts
Bibi Cafe and Bakery in Westwood.

Bibi Cafe and Bakery certainly brings back the old world charm of a place like Helen's and the freshly made baked goods that can only be made with love and nothing else (well, quality ingredients in the right combinations, also!). I never thought I'd see Helen's Bakery again, but Fataneh offers this type of old world bakery with her own tremendous substance and style. I can't say enough good things about her bakery, and having my faith restored in knowing a good, old-fashioned bakery exists just like the legendary Helen's Bakery did, for me, back in the day. It's, by far, the best bakery I have been to in the Boston suburbs!

Bibi Cafe and Bakery is located at 1 Church St., Westwood. Tel. 781-320-9900. Bibi Cafe and Bakery web site:  Bibi Cafe and Bakery Facebook fan page:

Cookies from Bibi Cafe and Bakery in Westwood, Massachusetts.
Homemade cookies from Bibi Cafe and Bakery.

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