Arts & Entertainment

A Simple Recipe: local brews, small batches

Collin Shapiro and Jonathon Zilber’s new shop Philly Style Bagels uses local beers in its bagel recipes.

After curing a batch of salmon together one day, Collin Shapiro and Jonathon Zilber discovered they had nothing to compliment their meal—and decided to try their hand at making bagels.

“We had made some fish, but didn’t think about how we were going to be serving it,” said Zilber, a Kensington resident. “It was serendipitous. We had this fish, and then bagels are obviously the natural vehicle for eating such a food. We just whipped up a batch on the fly and were so enamored with how good they were.”

The duo’s efforts in the kitchen came to fruition Saturday for the grand opening of Philly Style Bagels at the corner of Columbia Avenue and Sepviva Street, with lines of customers spilling down the block for most of the morning.

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Missy Wicker (left), and Josh Decker enter Philly Style Bagels. | Patrick Clark TTN

The eatery’s current roster includes sesame, everything, plain, onion, salt, garlic and poppy-seed bagels, with more flavors currently in the works. Bagel sandwiches and specialty cream cheeses—like salmon and jalapeño spreads—are available as well.

Shapiro, a 2011 communication studies alumnus, and Zilber first met in 2009 while working as stock boys at The Foodery, a craft-beer bottle shop in Northern Liberties, and quickly bonded over their love of brewing, meeting up few times a month to make beer, cook fish and occasionally make bagels.

Soon after, they began distributing their bagels via pop-up shops at Pizzeria Beddia at the corner of Girard Avenue and Shackamaxon Street. The two men’s culinary creations quickly became a neighborhood favorite, drawing early-morning lines out the door of Beddia and selling out within hours. Development of the shop began in January 2015.

Shapiro believes Philly Style’s greatest strength lies in its simplicity.

“I think that if you can do one thing really well, that’s all you really need,” he said.

Shapiro and Zilber use a traditional process to create their signature bagels—with a few deviations. First, yeast, water and flour are mixed to create poolish, which is left to ferment overnight. The next day, dough is mixed, fermented for another night and rolled into shape.

I love it being a neighborhood shop where neighbors can come and share good food together.
~Jonathon Zilber | co-owner of Philly Style Bagels

To give their bagels a distinct malt flavor, the pair then boils their bagels in a mixture of Yards IPA and water.

To give their bagels a distinct malt flavor, the pair then boils their bagels in a mixture of Yards IPA and water.

“We were doing a lot of research about what other people put in their boil,” Zilber said. “In Montreal they’re known to put honey in their water, and in New York they use malt syrup. Us adding beer essentially has the same function as what they do, but it has the added bonus of us being in Philly, which is such a great beer town.”

After the bagels are boiled, they are placed on “bagel boards” —small wooden planks covered in burlap, dusted in cornmeal and sent to the oven. The two also add chili flakes and mustard seeds to their everything bagels to create a subtle, smoky flavor.

Jeff Alligood, a Fishtown resident who attended the shop’s grand opening, sees potential in the new bagelry after six years living in New York.

“It definitely compares to some of the better shops there,” Alligood said. “I think it’s great for the neighborhood. There’s a lot of people that lined up to come out and grab some bagels, so it’s nice to see the community getting together for it. It can bring people together for breakfast, lunch, anything.”

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Philly Style Bagels hosted its grand opening in Fishtown on Jan. 16. | PATRICK CLARK TTN

Zilber shares a similar sentiment on the shop’s ability to create a natural, familial atmosphere.

“I love it being a neighborhood shop where neighbors can come and share good food together, but also feel that sense of community,” Zilber said.“I like to think that what we offer is a connection to the food.”

“It’s always, ‘We want it now, and we want it fast and cheap,’ and we kind of have lost that connection to the people who are making stuff,” he added. “It was really important for us to have the oven out where people can see it, so that they can have that same epiphany we had the first time we pulled the bagels out of the oven. You get that smell, and you can see them and everything looks so good; just to have that experience and to be able to share that experience with our community is a really awesome thing.”

Philly Style Bagels is open Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Eamon Dreisbach can be reached at eamon.noah.dreisbach@temple.edu.

Video by Patrick Clark.

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