Summit's Best Bagels!
New Jersey and New York are known for having THE best bagels, and other bakery delicious treats! (We're pretty sure that's a fact, right!?) Here are the yummiest spots in Summit to stop by on the way to work, school, or the gym to get your bagel fix!
529 Morris Avenue, Summit, NJ
Hours | Mondays-Sundays: 5am-5pm
Located on the west side of Summit, and open for over 10 years now, it has become a Summit “go-to” for delicious, light, and fluffy bagels! If you get there early in the morning, you can get them hot and fresh out of the oven. They are known for their Taylor ham (or sausage), egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel. Their coffee and iced coffee is also very good! Friendly staff, quick and easy to get in and out. No seating, so everything is take-out.
BAGELS 4 U
752 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills, NJ
Hours | Mondays-Saturdays: 5am-4pm & Sundays: 5am-3pm
Technically not Summit but right on the line, this local chain generally garners above average reviews, and for some of my friends it is “the place to go for bagels,” with a large variety of flavors, and cream cheeses to choose from! Coffee; both hot and iced, also gets outstanding reviews. Known for their bagel bomb sandwich (which is egg, cheese, any kind of meat and a hash brown). YUM! Has seating if you want to leisurely enjoy your bagel and not eat it on the fly, or wait until you get home.
MANHATTAN BAGEL COMPANY
25 Union Place, Summit, NJ
Hours | Mondays-Fridays: 6am-4pm & Saturdays-Sundays: 6am-3pm
Their convenient location in downtown Summit right near the train station makes them a regular spot with the commuters. They have a large assortment of bagels and sandwiches, coffees and juices. In the fall they have a pumpkin cream cheese that everyone raves about!!
33 Union Place, Summit, NJ
Hours | Mondays-Fridays: 5am-10pm & Saturdays-Sundays 5am-9pm
With three locations in Summit, if you are a Dunkin’ coffee drinker and want a bagel on the side, the bagels here are decent. There is a Dunkin' located very close to the Summit train station as well, making it a convenient go-to for commuters!
185 Broad Street, Summit, NJ
Hours | Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays-Saturdays: 6am-6pm, Sundays: 6am-3pm
This Summit institution on the outskirts of Summit definitely has good bagels, but when you walk in you are overwhelmed with all the other choices of delights, such as: danishes, donuts, coffee cakes, etc. that you will most definitely end up coming home with more than just a bagel!
Anna PriceJune 27, 2018
The deliciousness of hand-rolled bagels
The future of hand-rolled bagels, a tradition immigrant Jews started in New Jersey more than a century ago, belongs to Natanel Niazoff.
Niazoff, 20, of Teaneck, said his father, an Israeli immigrant, was working as a kosher supervisor when he decided to buy Sammy's Bagels in Teaneck about 16 years ago. His parents moved the family to Israel in 2009, but his dad, Yossi Niazoff, still owns the business.
Natanel returned a few years later so he could study at a local yeshiva. His father flies in once a month to check on the business – it has grown to include a kosher pizzeria, deli and coffee bar as well as the bagel operation under one roof — while Natanel and his brothers run the operation on a daily basis.
"At first I thought I'd never want to take over. Now I'm not so sure," he said. "I like dealing with the people ... It's nice to make them happy."
Bagel makers like Niazoff say the popularity of their hand-rolled product will continue as long as there are hands to roll them — even though, it seems, each year there are fewer and fewer hands willing to do the work.
Nevertheless, while bagels are still being made the old-fashioned way, bagel mavens advise, don't be a culinary fool: Enjoy them while they last. They're not only delicious but a comfort food, one that can make Sunday morning — actually any morning — a joy to wake up to.
And, of course, for the Jewish community bagels are still iconic. They are staples at a bris, bar mitzvah or shiva buffet — right next to the cream cheese and lox.
"The same people I see in synagogue, I see here for breakfast," Niazoff said.
There's an appeal for folks who know the difference between a crispy, chewy, hand-rolled bagel – the kind that gives your jaw a workout — and a gummy supermarket variety that some dismiss as "a roll with a hole."
"We're one of the few places in the area that makes bagels the old-fashioned way," Niazoff said.
Not all bagel shops hand-roll bagels. The best way to tell if the bagels are indeed rolled by hand: 1) taste and 2) ask the bagel maker.
Niazoff's head bagel baker, Anthony Feehan, arrives at work around 4:30 a.m., mixes the high-gluten dough, hand-rolls the rings and allows them to proof (a process in which the yeast begins to rise) for a few hours. Then they are carted into the refrigerator to stop the yeast from growing.
When it's time to cook, the bagels are thrown in a boiling water vat for about a minute to reactivate the yeast before being covered in seeds, garlic bits or salt and placed onto burlap-covered wooden planks and pushed into the oven for about 15 minutes.
Dennis Samoilis started making bagels shortly after he jumped from a Greek cargo ship at age 17. He learned from "the old-timers" at Jewish-owned bagel shops in North Jersey and Manhattan in the early 1970s, and opened his first place about 14 years later.
Samoilis, 60, of Fair Lawn, has owned several bagel shops over the years and is down to one store now, River Road Bagels in Fair Lawn. He still serves the same 12 varieties he started with and relies on the same recipe and cooking method after all these years.
But, still, something is different.
"It's the texture of the flour," he said, wincing. "Back then the dough was so silky."
Samoilis and other bagel makers blame Big Food for manipulating what Mother Nature had made so perfectly. It's much harder, they say, to find flour that meets their standards.
He wonders if the tradition of hand-rolled bagels will continue after he retires. "If you can find people like me that take pride in their work, probably," he said. His son, Neal Samoilis, 24, hopes to take over the business some day, but he didn't elaborate about the appeal.
The first written reference to bagels (or beygl, sometimes written beigel, in Yiddish) was found in 1610, in regulations issued by the Jewish Council of Krakow, Poland. The rules outlined how much Jewish families could spend when celebrating the circumcision of a baby boy, according to "The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread," by New Jersey native Maria Balinska.
Balinska contends the bagel is a descendant of the German pretzel and may have been a staple among Jewish bakers before they migrated to Poland from Germany in the Middle Ages. The bagel was probably developed alongside the Polish obwarzanek, a larger, softer bread enjoyed by the Polish royal court — a court, she noted, that was frequented by the Jewish elite. Eastern European Jews who settled in New York City and North Jersey brought their bagel recipes with them.
Harlan Amster, owner of a Springfield-based chain called Bagels-4-U, is a third-generation bagel maker. Details are sketchy, but he believes his Yiddish-speaking grandfather, Hyman Amster, emigrated from Romania to Newark around the turn of the last century and delivered his bagels to local bakeries by horse and cart. Hyman brought his son, Sonny, into the bagel union as a young boy. In 1957, Sonny partnered with Joseph Pearlman, a New York City bagel maker who earlier purchased Watson Bagel in Newark, already a well-established operation from the 1940s. The so-called Watson bagel was sold in bakeries, supermarkets and diners throughout North and Central Jersey for decades.
Amster, 61, of Bridgewater, said the bagels were made in brick ovens in the early days. The boiled dough was placed on a wooden peel with a string through the middle. The bakers would slide the peel through the narrow door and then pull the string to flip the bagels halfway through the baking process. It wasn't until the 1960s that his father bought his first metal oven with revolving shelves, which made the bagels easier to flip.
Amster said he follows the family recipe: high-gluten flour, tap water, liquid malt, salt and yeast. Sugar is needed in certain varieties, like cinnamon raisin. (Some bakers use sugar instead of liquid malt and add dough conditioners to their basic mix, but not Amster.)
He wasn't concerned about the future of hand-rolled bagels. As long as there are people to roll, he argues, the product will sell.
Perhaps it is other ethnic groups willing to put in long hours and carry on traditions that will keep things rolling.
George Metri, an Egyptian immigrant, learned the trade at Goldberg's Bagel Shop in Saddle Brook about 23 years ago. He opened his store, Lakeview Bagels and Deli in Clifton, 19 years ago (a year after Goldberg's closed).
"I make the bagels every day," Metri said. "I don't let anyone else touch them." Metri said he once hired a man to roll out his bagels, but his customers noticed the difference.
Just as bagels have evolved over the years, so have the schmears.
At Sammy's in Teaneck, the biggest seller is still the plain bagel with cream cheese and lox, although the cinnamon raisin with plain cream cheese and jelly is quite popular as well. Samoilis said the most requests in his store are everything, cinnamon and plain bagels with vegetable cream cheese.
Metri said whole wheat, everything and multigrain are rapidly gaining attention. And, sure, his customers still ask for tuna, egg salad and the usual cream cheese spreads, but now they want steak, egg and cheese bagels for breakfast and burger bagels for lunch.
Thomas' Bagels, which sold more than 162 million in 2015, said that among the most popular bagel toppings nationwide are cream cheese, butter, flavored cream cheese, jelly, eggs, deli meats, margarine, peanut butter and bacon.
Norma Almanza, 50, of Cliffside Park, and her brothers didn't want to get into the bagel business. But when a "great shop" in Edgewater became available two years ago, they seized the opportunity to create Mr. Bagelsworth.
"We knew it had potential," said Almanza, who runs a Union City-based advertising and marketing firm. Her brother Alex, a 53-year-old retired financier from Cliffside Park, runs the business full time while she and her younger brother Carlos, a 47-year-old pharmacist and restaurateur from Franklin Lakes, help out a few days a week.
The siblings — their Cuban immigrant parents owned a bodega in Union City — converted the place into a traditional deli/bagel shop with a Cuban twist, offering ethnic sandwiches and desserts. They hired experienced hand rollers who, she said, learned from old Jewish rollers. One of the shop's popular sandwiches is, in fact, a combination of the two cultures: a roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese sandwich with mustard and pickles hot-pressed on a pumpernickel bagel.
Young Natanel Niazoff has just started his first semester of college. He will study computer science and continue to work at his father's shop. So, does he think he'll take over the business some day?
"Maybe one day," he mused. "If it's not too much of a headache."
What’s the Difference Between Smoked Salmon and Lox?
When you’re talking about a topping for bagels and cream cheese, lox is the name most tossed around — it just sounds natural to order a bagel with lox and cream cheese. But is lox really just smoked salmon? Here’s a guide to what lox really is, as well as a primer on how different types of smoked salmon are made.
Lox was traditionally only made from the belly of salmon, although other parts of the fish are now also used. The salmon is salt-cured or brined but never cooked or smoked, so it has a very silky, rich texture and translucency. Lox is the traditional topping of bagels with cream cheese and is most often served thinly sliced.
There are two other versions of lox where the preparation methods do vary a bit:
Nova Lox: This lox, which comes from Nova Scotia, is actually cold-smoked after the curing or brining process.
Gravlax: Gravlax is the Scandinavian preparation of lox, where lots of fresh dill and spices such as juniper berries and pepper, as well as some liquor such as aquavit or brandy, are additional ingredients used during the curing process.
Smoked salmon is a much more generic term than lox. Smoked salmon can be made from any part of the fish, and it starts with salt curing or brining, just as in lox.
The next step is where smoked salmon is different from lox. The salmon can be covered in spices or a dry rub after curing, then smoked in one of two ways:
Cold-Smoked Salmon: The salmon is slowly exposed to smoke in about an 80°F environment for a few days. The salmon doesn’t get cooked, so the flesh of cold-smoked salmon stays very moist and silky and has a beautiful translucent pink color. Cold-smoked salmon has a similar texture to lox, but has an additional layer of smoky flavor. It is also a common topping for bagels and cream cheese and is usually sold thinly sliced.
Hot-Smoked Salmon: The salmon is smoked with heat in the same way meat gets smoked. The fish gets cooked all the way through and ends up with a firm, flaky, and drier texture, but it also has a distinct smoky flavor. When shopping for hot-smoked salmon, it looks very similar to a piece of cooked or grilled salmon.