Carbs of the kind that inhabit creatures like bagels and baguettes may have gone out of fashion. And even those of us who choose to enjoy life had to take four months off the damn things during the temporary closing of Kossar’s, the 80-year-old Lower East Side bakery specializing in bialys (which are decidedly not bagels, y’all). I bet your mother even accused you of being skinny over the holidays, and you know that squeezing compliments out of her is like slurping the bitty remnants of your day-one juice detox (i.e. painful for everyone). Forget all that, and check out the new digs– maybe you’ll even be inclined to enjoy at least a few of these babies to the face. Think of it as making up for lost time.
At the grand reopening sneak peek last night, we were happy to see that Kossar’s didn’t swap out the old-school vibes for glittery-new-condos ones. This isn’t SoulCycle, after all– this is legit the oldest bialy bakery in the U.S (and the only establishment specializing in bialys in New York City). As such, they’re no fools– bakers everywhere still need to tap into some degree of nostalgia in order to trick people into thinking that it’s somewhere between 1956 and 1992, when “bread” was still one of the pillars of everyday healthy eating. The interior, with its brightly glowing, Pre-War-style lamps, subway tiles, and stainless steel/white/red color combo, is throwback enough without being too heavy-handed.
The revamp came after two newcomers, Evan Giniger and David Zablocki, bought the struggling business a couple years back, but they (wisely) haven’t touched the “centuries old” bialys recipe. Which, lest you forget, is not simply a screwed-up bagel. Bialys are baked (their bagel doppelgängers are boiled and then baked), and instead of having all those pesky poppy seeds hanging on to the surface for dear life, the flavor bits (onions are a classic choice) are baked inside. Also they’re softer, and less rock-in-the-stomach dense than bagels.
But this is New York, and so Kossar’s has bagels too. But to protect against cross-contamination (or some other perceived threat to the bialy’s autonomy), the bakery has two separate kitchens, each territory occupied only by a dedicated bialy staff and equipment set-up, and bagel traitor squad, respectively.
While the bialy bakery doesn’t officially re-open its doors until tomorrow, Feb. 5, Kossar’s did share a fresh menu and some of their brand new items (part of a “rebranding” effort) with visitors last night. These include the Pletzel Pizza (a Jewish take on focaccia with the blessed basel, cheese, and tomato trifecta) and The Czar (an open-faced pumpernickel bagel sandwich with classic ingredients like Nova lox, parsley and dill cream cheese, pickled beets, Salmon roe).
See the full menu below.
Kossar’s is located at 357 Grand St, nr. Essex St., on the Lower East Side.