East Villagers have a new place to score rainbow-sprinkle cream cheese for when they just can’t with the lines at Tompkins Square Bagels. Newcomer Bagel Belly opened Saturday and serves what are touted as “freshly baked, hand rolled, kettle boiled organic bagels and handcrafted cream cheese” alongside a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, panini, and wraps. The menu (below) claims the bakers get up at 4 a.m. every morning to do their thing.
The store– which shares owners with Namu Deli & Grocery, a few blocks up the avenue– isn’t doling out those of-the-moment rainbow bagels, but it is whipping up “rainbow cream cheese,” which turns out to be something rather similar to the birthday-cake cream cheese over at Tompkins. Oh, and there are also bagels with chocolate chips melted in.
Bagel Belly is offering a few things to entice new customers (free delivery with an $8 minimum, plus a 50-percent-off special till the weekend). But if you absolutely refuse to defect from Tompkins Square Bagels and its wacky experiments like the mac-and-cheese bagel, rest assured its second location, just a few blocks from Bagel Belly, is opening soon.
Christopher Pugliese, owner of the oft-packed bagelry on Avenue A, tells us he’s aiming to open the new spot, at 184 Second Avenue, toward the end of June. “There’s a lot of construction involved as we’re enclosing a backyard space,” he said. The lease on the former home of Open Pantry, between East 11th and 12th Streets, was signed almost a year ago, but things haven’t been a breeze at the Department of Buildings, according to Pugliese. “They don’t care about the small-business persons,” he said. “That’s why you see so many of these places shut down two months after they opened. People can’t afford to pay the rent for an empty space.”