The Real Deal

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By Greg Thilmont

What makes for a perfect bagel? According to Shelley Curtis of New York Bagels ‘N Bialys, dunking it in a steaming kettle of bubbling hot water before it’s baked in an oven.

“We serve a traditional New York bagel,” Curtis says. “We boil our bagels first. It’s not bread with a hole in it.”

This boiling-before-baking stage gives bagels their signature crusty outsides and chewy insides, and along with co-owner Ruth Leatherman, Curtis has been creating the circular mainstays of Jewish deli cuisine in Scottdale since 2005. Their in-house bakers turn out thousands of individual bagels daily in a wide range of flavors, most of which are kosher.

Leading styles include all-time favorites like egg, salt, poppy, pumpernickel, rye, onion and garlic. Modern bagel innovations are served, too—ones that were probably never dreamt of a century ago on the Lower East Side. Think blueberry, strawberry, jalapeño and asiago cheese. And, of course, everything bagels are also among the many holey choices.

Sliced in half, New York Bagels ‘N Bialys’ bagels go perfectly with velvety cream cheese, whether plain or blended with aromatic chives, savory veggies, spicy chili peppers or sweet strawberries. For a deluxe schmear, the house lox cream cheese is made with premium cured salmon from Brooklyn’s acclaimed ACME Smoked Fish. Peanut butter and jelly are also on the list of spreads.

And while bagels have been a part of everyday mainstream American culture for more than 30 years now, some might wonder just what is a bialy.

“It’s similar to a bagel, except it’s not boiled first, so that makes it lighter and fluffier,” Curtis says of bialys. She adds they’re less sweet than bagels and are lower in calories. They also don’t have holes. Available with many of the same toppings as found in the restaurant’s bagels, the rustic disks also come in flavors like chocolate chip, cinnamon-raisin and tomato-basil.

New York Bagels ‘N Bialys’ menu goes beyond these two baked namesakes and features breakfast dishes from across the American culinary map. Lox and onions with scrambled eggs hail from the Upper East Coast. The Deep South makes a show with chicken fried steak and country gravy. And the Southwest shines with zesty huevos rancheros. Omelets abound from the chock-full-of-ham Denver to the Greek’s twist of spinach and feta. Delicatessen classics include matzoh brie, knishes, cheese blintzes and a towering version of French toast made with challah bread.

“One of our signature dishes is the ‘Pile Up,’” adds Leatherman, joining in to describe the restaurant’s wide-reaching fare.

The astounding (and aptly named) creation impresses with three crispy potato pancakes layered with eggs, ham, bacon and sausage with cheddar and American cheeses. Then, for good measure, everything’s bound together with a drizzle of delectable cheese sauce.

Eggs Benedict fans can choose from six styles of the Hollandaise-draped dish, including combinations like the avocado-centric California, the chorizo-laden Southwestern and the Reuben with mounds of corned beef and sauerkraut.

Lunchtime offerings lead with cold sandwiches piled high with sliced meats including roast beef, pastrami, salami and turkey breast as well as spreadable toppings like tuna and chicken salads. Hot sandwich styles range from beef brisket and French dip to grilled chicken and salmon. Add in to the mix leafy salads such as sirloin on fresh greens with bleu cheese and balsamic glaze, plus piping-hot matzoh ball and chicken noodle soups, among others.

For beverages, a full bar is available for cocktails, including Bloody Marys and mimosas. On the soft drink side, stars include rich vanilla egg creams, bubbly chocolate phosphates and an array of Dr. Brown’s bottled sodas.

Save room for dessert and try Leatherman’s scratch-made cookies, macaroons, rugelach, halvah bars and more. To round out New York Bagels ‘N Bialys offerings, there’s a fun kid’s menu (think finger-friendly silver dollar pancakes, quesadillas, grilled cheese and the like) and even pooch-friendly snacks including grilled chicken breasts and beef patties for pet owners to share with their furry family members.

No matter what you order at New York Bagels ‘N Bialys, Curtis says to expect “a family vibe.”

“We feed you what we like to eat,” says Curtis with a smile. “We take care of you like you’re friends.”