Noted food writer and bagel connoisseur Mimi Sheraton once wrote in The New York Times longingly about proper, old-fashioned New York bagels — small, dense beings with the perfect chew to their center and snap to their crust: “I remember them well…. Their like will not come this way again.”
Three years later, bagels are going through somewhat of a renaissance, returning to the shape of their former selves, courtesy of a handful of dedicated food artisans.
Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone and Jeff Zalaznick, who own a number of innovative restaurants in Manhattan, have teamed up with baker Melissa Weller to open a modern-day appetizing shop with their unique spin on the idea.
Weller’s exceptional bagels made an appearance at the food fair Smorgasburg in 2013, drawing lines almost immediately. They will reappear when the new shop opens later in 2015, along with appropriate house-made schmear, of course.
Meanwhile, Noah Bernamoff, owner of nouveau Montreal-style deli Mile End, is hoping to expand his 8-month-old old bagel business Black Seed through New York City and possibly beyond. The Manhattan shop sells bagels that are a hybrid of Montreal bagels, which are boiled in honey and fire roasted, and old-fashioned hand-rolled New York bagels.
In Melbourne, New Jersey native Zev Forman, who has been spreading the bagel gospel Down Under, recently moved his popular bagel stand called 5 and Dime to its first brick-and-mortar location.
The bagels at these shops are pretty close to what Sheraton mourned; they are inspired by what countless Jewish ancestors in Poland, and along the streets of the Lower East Side, munched on.
These are bagels for the 21st century, made by hand, schmeared with slightly tangy house-made cream cheese and topped with slices of perfectly pink lox. In 2015, Sheraton will be able to fully satisfy her hunger for nostalgia.
Devra Ferst is an associate editor at Eater NY.