New York and New Jersey transplants, rejoice! Your longing for a crunchy-on-the-outside, dense-and-chewy-on-the-inside bagel reminiscent of city life and morning commutes is now within reach. Shapps Bagels owner and New Jersey native Neil Shapiro–with the help of his son, Jeff, a New York City chef; and wife, Robin–have married "real deal" New York–made bagels with hot-out-of-the-oven local freshness.
"It is kind of like we are supplying these care packages for these people from the Northeast who are lost without their bagels," says Shapiro.
Shapps bagels come from carefully selected Bronx-based supplier with a hefty reputation for having the best bagel in all the boroughs and beyond. And while, according to Shapiro, most native Floridians are used to machine-rolled and steamed bagels, a true New York bagel is hand-rolled then boiled using water from the Catskill Mountains (some of the purest water in the country). Shapiro, who is in the insurance business, says both the water and the proofing process are key to the bagels' density and authenticity.
"When you taste a bagel in Sarasota, typically it tastes like bread," says Shapiro. "With our bagels, the yeast interacts with the dough–or is proofed–for more than 48 hours, then immediately boiled, which locks in the flavors."
Shapiro and his team receive the bagels after they've been boiled to about 75 percent cooked, then flash frozen. They then "bake off" the bagels to order and deliver fresh to wholesale customers around Sarasota, including to Sarasota Downtown Farmers' Market vendor Gail's Southern Basket; Perq Coffee off Hillview; the Clever Cup in Gulf Gate; and the Village Café on Siesta Key.
Shapps takes care of its retail customers, too, offering "bagel drops" to customers who place their order online then choose the closest wholesale delivery location from which to pick up their hot, fresh bagel order in a traditional brown bag.
"People are very excited they can travel five minutes to get their bagels," Shapiro says.
Shapps opened in August, and through taste testing and customer feedback, Shapiro is confident his bagels are unmatched in taste and authenticity by any other bagel in town. But because they contain zero preservatives, he recommends they be eaten within eight to 10 hours of baking. And if you want a taste of New York in the comfort of your own home but not all right away, you can always order the minimum half-dozen and freeze what you don't eat.
The Shapps Northgate bakery location can accommodate baking up to 150 dozen bagels an hour, and with between 1,000 and 2,000 dozen frozen bagels available for baking at any time, it's unlikely they will run out.
Flavors are mostly traditional: egg, cinnamon raisin, plain, everything, onion, garlic, and salt; but they also offer a few additional specialties, like chocolate chip, blueberry and asiago, and recently started offering what Shapiro calls "true French croissants" as well.
"We give up certain things to live in this beautiful place, but we decided now–with certain technologies–you don't have to give up great food from not only New York but all over the world."