Philly Style Bagels

Producer: Michael O’Reilly

Philly Style Bagels started with two friends, Collin Shapiro and Jonathon Zilberas, making beer, curing meats and baking bagels as a hobby. The bagels were good – really good. Once they realized they were onto something in the bagel department, they quickly progressed to a “pop-up” to dispense their breads. The pair had planned to host weekly “pop-ups” at different already-established locations throughout the city. They started with Pizzeria Beddia, using the morning hours where the pizzeria would have been closed anyway. They quickly realized that the pizza oven itself was one of the things that made their bagels even better (one other thing was just that that they were fresh). And they also realized that Fishtown was a receptive place for their brand of bread.

Fast forward a couple of years and the duo have opened a shop in Fishtown. Joe Beddia, fresh off his Bon Appetit declared “Best Pizza in America” triumph, introduces BA staff writer Andrew Knowlton to Philly Style Bagels. In a span of a few months, the fledgling PSB not only gets voted “Best Bagel in Philadelphia” by Philadelphia Magazine, but Bon Appetit declares their Classic Lox Sandwich to be the “Best Sandwich in America”. From the BA review:

“The truth is, any combination of ingredients you put between these crazily flavorful bagels—be it hummus, tuna, or bacon-lettuce-and-tomato—will be life-changing. At the risk of starting an inter-city rivalry with New York, we think Collin Shapiro and Jonathon Zilber are making some of the best bagels in the country. What makes them that great? They’re fermented in small batches, hand-rolled, boiled in local Yards beer (that’s what makes them Philly-style), and baked on wood planks. The result is a smallish, pleasantly dense, and chewy bagel with a superb crust that has just the right amount of crispness. They say a sandwich is only as good as the bread you use. We couldn’t agree more.”

As a former brewer, Joe Beddia understood the fermentation process necessary for the perfect pizza dough. Collin and Jonathon understand that process as well, and as this producer gathered from interviewing the masterminds behind these Fishtown Bests, that is the crucial thing that separates the bread in these bagels and dough in the pizza from the ordinary – they are making them in small batches and there is a great amount of time and effort put into letting the dough develop in a way that only someone familiar with fermentation would understand. They may only do this because it makes a better product, but they happen to move a lot of that product and make many people happy (themselves included) along the way.

Owners Jonathan Zilber and Collin Shapiro’s first bagel recipe came from the internet. But after experimenting with different ingredients, fermentation and baking techniques, Philly Style Bagels was born. Since then, the Fishtown favorite has not only gained neighborhood recognition but multiple positive reviews nationwide. Watch the secret behind their bagel-making process.

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