Don Quixote tilted at windmills; displaced New Yorkers search for an authentic bagel. At times, both quests seem doomed to disappointment and failure.
The truth is, an authentic bagel is in the eye of the beholder. Ever since it originated in the Jewish community of Krakow, Poland, in 1610, the bagel has spread around the world, morphing in the process. Residents of the Big Apple may believe they have a monopoly on it, but there are many styles to choose from—Montreal, Chicago, East Coast, and London, to name a few. While they’re now available in supermarkets and on breakfast buffets at chain hotels, those items are nothing more than clumps of white bread molded into the shape of a bagel. And in all honesty, it’s not easy to find an authentic bagel in Manhattan anymore, either.
Two Naples establishments are ahead of the curve. At Straight from New York Bagels, transplanted New Yorker Kurt Sexton has been turning out 18 varieties, including bialys, since 2007. There’s a similar story at Brooklyn Dough with a Hole (239-231-3159). Steve Batitsas opened the Naples outpost in 2017 following 25 years operating five bagel shops in New York and New Jersey. Both Sexton and Batitsas follow the traditional method of boiling before baking.
Aficionados will tell you that only two things truly matter when it comes to bagels: They shouldn’t be more than an hour or two out of the oven and should always be consumed untoasted. When should you toast a bagel? Only when it’s stale.