When Leo’s Bagels owner Adam Pomerantz first left the world of high finance for the world of bagels, he approached it with the passion of a perfectionist. Apprenticing for an Egyptian bagel baker in New Jersey, Pomerantz learned everything he could about how to create hand-rolled, torus-shaped doughy deliciousness of his own.
In 2007 Pomerantz brought his expertise to Lower Manhattan, opening Leo’s Bagels (named after his great uncle, who hailed from Eastern Europe, the birthplace of the bagel). If there’s anyone to ask how to best consume a bagel, it’s him. Here’s what Pomerantz recommends for the best possible bagel experience:
1 – If a bagel is made/rolled using traditional bagel ingredients and it’s been out of the oven for only a few hours, there’s absolutely no reason to toast. However, when you’re forced to eat a mediocre bagel (unfortunately, it does happen) or a day-old bagel, toasting can resuscitate it.
2 – As a lifelong New Yorker (born and raised in Brooklyn/Staten Island) who was eating smoked fish as a toddler, Pomerantz always applies a schmear of cream cheese to both sides of the bagel, followed by the nova, then tomato and Bermuda onion and finished with a sprinkle of capers. Some Leo’s regulars prefer to open the sandwich, which requires some adjusting of the fish, tomatoes and onions, but not the cream cheese. (This is one of the reasons why Leo’s applies seeds, minced onion, garlic, salt, et cetera to both sides of the bagel.)
3 – PSA: Cinnamon raisin bagels are for either tourists or young New Yorkers who’ll eventually discover the error of their ways.
4 – To scoop or not to scoop? The bready interior of the bagel, that is. To satisfy customers looking to cut back on a few calories, Leo’s gladly scoops the bagels. So long as you don’t mess with the shiny, golden crust, it’s all good.