Tompkins Square Bagels Opens: How It’s Looking, What It’s Cooking

Photos: Noah Fecks

Over a month after a sign by “Mosaic Man” Jim Power was hoisted over the storefront at 165 Avenue A, near Tenth Street, Tompkins Square Bagels has finally opened. Yesterday, owner Chris Pugliese told The Local that he planned to soft-open this morning.

Mr. Pugliese said he planned to sell vegan and gluten-free muffins from LifeThyme Natural Market, coffee from Stumptown, pastries from Balthazar and Bread Alone, and bread from Amy’s Bread and Hudson Bread. Gradually, the shop will start making more of its own products – everything from cheesecake to muffins and cupcakes – but for now, the in-house bakers are focused mainly on bagels and bialys.

Mr. Pugliese, 40, who is also an owner of Court Street Bagels in Cobble Hill, said he was still trying to perfect a square bagel as well as a bagel made without dough conditioners, “the way immigrant New Yorkers did it.” He grew up across the street from Bake City Bagels in Gravesend, Brooklyn, and worked there in his youth. Mr. Pugliese said he was inspired partly by Bake City’s bagels and partly by an article by former New York Times restaurant critic Marian Burros, who in 1994 lamented the gradual inflation of the bagel from its increasingly rare 2- to 3-ounce original incarnation.

Mr. Pugliese said, “I read that article and said, ‘Wow. I’m going to make that bagel. I know how to do it.’”

As it turned out, finding a roller who knew how to make bagels without dough conditioners proved tricky. And there was also the matter of preservation. “Those bagels are going to be good for four hours and then they’re going to get hard,” said Mr. Pugliese. “So you’re rolling the dice when you’re making them.”

The throwback bagels will have to wait, but according to Mr. Pugliese, his standard bagels contain very little dough conditioners in any case. Have a look at them being made via The Local’s slideshow, or just walk in yourself and have a seat at the shop’s open kitchen. Tompkins Square Bagels will be open daily from 6 a.m. till 8 p.m., and eventually till midnight.