Kossar’s Bialys is the maker of the best bialy you will ever have.
Bialy, sort of a cousin to the well-known bagel, is Yiddish for bialystoker kuchen, from Bialystok, Poland (then under Russian occupation). As Russian Jews came to New York, they brought with them this delicious recipe.
It’s made similarly to a bagel, but instead of a hole, the center is depressed and filled with a small amount of diced onions and other ingredients like garlic, poppy seeds, or bread crumbs. Then, instead of boiling the roll like a bagel, a bialy is just baked, making it chewy yet soft and delicious.
Established in 1936, Kossar’s is the oldest bialy bakery in the United States. They use a brick oven to get the best flavor, and hand-make all of their bialys.
In the late 1990s, they started making bagels, but no self-respecting bialy lover would think of buying anything other than a bialy from Kossar’s. Though they’ve raised their prices in recent years, the current 90 cent price tag per bialy also makes Kossar’s one of the most affordable bakeries in the city.
Their bakery set-up is simple: brick oven at the back; a cashier and stockpile of fresh baked goods up front on one side; and a bar along the window with a few stools on the other side. Behind the eating area, there’s a little coffee pot set up, but it generally looks as though it hasn’t been changed in a few decades. Whenever I stop in, I always get a few bialys to go. I nibble on one as I wander, and I save the rest for later.
A delicious reminder of old New York!
367 Grand Street
New York, NY 10002