Brooklyn is filled with Italian bakeries, but sadly only a few of them devote themselves to making great bread. Il Fornaretto is one of them, and its coal-fired oven has been producing classic, well-made loaves for decades, including what may be the best semolina bread in town.
'Good Bread' on Serious Eats
When you serve cheese, you need bread. Over a dozen years ago, that simple imperative led Bobolink Dairy, already renowned for its artisan cheeses, to build a wood-fired oven to bake rustic breads to go with their rustic cheeses. Today, Boblink's oven produces 17 varieties of bread made from largely local and organic grains. Thanks to the bakers' commitment to small batch, naturally leavened doughs, these loaves have a richness of flavor and texture that stands out in the city's crowded bread market.
For decades, the Hudson Valley has been a breadbasket for New York. Back in the 1970's and 80's—when the artisan back-to-the-bakery movement was at its peak—idealistic young bakers fled the city determined to hone their craft in a less stressful environment that was closer to the soil. Rock Hill Bakehouse, which sells at the Union Square Greenmarket, is one of those efforts.
The re-opening of Smorgasburg has brought a dizzying array of new vendors selling food products you didn't know you wanted: Teriyaki balls! Chicken burgers! Bite-size cheesecakes! Amid them all, it's great to discover a vendor offering something that we really need: great bagels made by a top-flight baker.
The approach of spring has given New York's bread bakers a burst of creativity. Here are five must-eat loaves to mark the end of winter.
Uri Scheft, the head man at Breads Bakery, arrives in New York with a distinguished baking pedigree that spans from Israel to Denmark. His Union Square bakery is already drawing regulars, and his northern European-style breads definitely warrant the attention.
In Lisbon, Alfama is the name of the historic center of the city, built around a medieval castle. In New York, Alfama is the name of little Portuguese restaurant in Midtown that makes some special bread.
New York has only been baking sourdough for about 40 years, but in that time the artisan bread revolution has given us some wonderful loaves.
Here are ten breads—lean and nutty as well as rich and sweet—perfect for holiday tables, all from some of New York's best bakers.
In 1997, Balthazar opened its doors on Spring Street. Downstairs in the basement, a corner was set aside for a little bread-making operation. On the first day, every table was decorated with a basket containing house-made breads: a baguette, a whole wheat, a rye, and so on. Fifteen years later, nearly identical loaves are still sold by the Balthazar Bakery, which has grown to be one of the city's biggest and most consistently excellent artisan bakeries.
A peppery porkiness suffused the air at Serious Eats World Headquarters last week. The aroma curled around the nostrils of the worker bees, drawing them from their seats toward a big table covered with plates. "Oh my God, I love that smell!" said one. Ignoring that we'd just had lunch, we prepared to sample ten of the loaves variously called lard or prosciutto bread from around the city. Here are our recommendations for loaves you should seek out.
This new rye bread from Dean & DeLuca is made with dried Genoa salami, Gruyère cheese, roasted hazelnuts, and Beaujolais nouveau wine instead of water.
There are bakeries that emphasize crust, and there are bakeries that emphasize crumb. I'm a crumb man myself, so that's why I love Silver Moon Bakery. Not that its loaves don't have a nice crisp crust; they just aren't wrapped in those hardened carapaces that tear apart the insides of your mouth when you chew.
The opening of a great new bakery in town doesn't just give us bread hogs another place to purchase our loaves. It also raises the bar for all the other bakeries, forcing them to work a little harder to make the best product. New to the mix is Maison Kayser, just opened on Third Avenue by master baker Eric Kayser, who is as ambitious and creative in Paris—and Dubai and Singapore—as Eli Zabar is here.
Peter Endriss, Runner & Stone's baker, is one of the many alumni of the Per Se bread ovens who have gone on to run some of the city's best bakeries. He's been selling his bread at incubator markets like Smorgasburg in Brooklyn and New Amsterdam Market in Manhattan, as places to spread the word about the Runner & Stone café and restaurant, slated to open in September.
Hot Bread Kitchen, the incubator kitchen with an excellent bakery, has opened their first retail bakery in Harlem.
One of the country's largest purveyors of "artisan breads" has just landed on Fifth Avenue. The shelves of the city's latest Panera Bread restaurant are stocked with about two dozen different loaves, as well as bagels and a wide variety of pastries. But that leads to a question: what, exactly, is artisan bread?
Stork's Bakery is a vestige of a dispersed community. Queens was once home to a thriving German-American population dating back to the mid 19th century. But Stork's still stands, a tribute to the stubbornness of its owner, Anton Duke, who bought the business from the Stork family back in 1990.
Koreatown, the block of 32nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, is a densely packed smorgasbord of Korean food. With restaurants lined up side by side and stacked on top of each other, the competition for your stomach and your wallet is intense. You can choose from Korean cafeterias, tiny kimbap joints, Korean-Chinese restaurants, multi-level eateries with elaborate waterfalls, and on and on. And among that glorious hodgepodge, you find Korean bakeries stuffed with over-the-top sweet and savory specialties. If you want to understand what makes a living, morphing fusion cuisine, Paris Baguette is a good place to start.
The New Amsterdam Market was a slice of bread heaven last Sunday. Fifteen of the city's best bakeries offered a dizzying array of delicious loaves, many of them created just for this event. The occasion was the market's Bread Pavilion, designed to showcase flours made from wheat grown by regional farmers. "We brought in bakers not normally in the market in celebration of local grains," said New Amsterdam founder Robert LaValva. The bakers came to support the farmers, and to compete. As Keith Cohen of Orwasher's said, "I brought my A game."