For Scott Rossillo, a bagel is a lot more than a piece of bread with a hole in it. The big-voiced, fast-talking Brooklynite and owner of The Bagel Store sees his creations as preserving a true New York tradition.
That’s because Rossillo is what he calls “a bagel purist.” The ingredients, techniques, and equipment behind every Bagel Store bagel are all rigorously faithful to the lessons he learned during his bagel-baking apprenticeship.
“The people who taught me had been in the business 40 years,” Rossillo says, remembering his days at Bake City Bagels in Gravesend, his childhood neighborhood hangout, and later where got his first job. “The people who taught them had already been in the business 45 years!” That’s a bagel-making tradition Rossillo can trace directly back to the immigrant communities of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. “People who grew up in New York in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, they know what a bagel is supposed to taste like.”
And Rossillo doesn’t disappoint. “I don’t want to adulterate that lineage,” he says. “I have too much respect for the people who taught me.”
But don’t think The Bagel Store is all vintage. One look at the menu and it’s clear there’s a modern side too. Next to all the old standards—like egg, everything, and pumpernickel—are concoctions like buttery garlic, jalapeno, French toast, vinegar and salt, and Rossillo’s new blockbuster, the bacon, egg, and cheese bagel (fyi: that’s not a sandwich; those are the bagel ingredients). Pair these with one of the nontraditional homemade cream cheeses—banana pie, spinach and artichoke, or carrot cake—and you’ve got yourself a delicious mix of old world and new.
Respect for tradition costs, he admits, but don’t think Rossillo is one to compromise taste for economics. “If there comes a day where I can’t ply my trade the way I want, I’ll close the store,” he says.
Unfortunately, that day seems to be fast approaching. Landlord problems are plaguing the Bedford location, and Rossillo expects it to close in the near future. But don’t worry, plans are already in the works for relocation, and he has big ideas for the new spot. He says the new and improved Bagel Store will have an authentic, old-fashioned brick oven so he can take his next bagels even farther back in time.
247 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 218-7244 / www.TheBagelStore.com