The new Belle's Bagels — whose bagels are "hand-rolled in Highland Park" — perhaps has a certain market niche in mind. But anyone who despises the puffy, bready circles that often pass for bagels in this city will be delighted to discover Belle's: dense, chewy bagels with crispy crusts.
"I didn't try to make the best New York-style bagel or the best Montreal-style bagel," says baker Nick Schreiber, who works in craft services as his day job. "I just set out to make the best bagel."
Schreiber started Belle's — named for his Romanian great-grandmother, "a great baker" — a year ago because he missed traditional bagels and couldn't find a good local source, he says. You can find bagels in L.A. that are good, but not great, says Schreiber, who went to college in Boston. No one here was making bagels "that you had to have."
For the last year, Belle's has functioned as an occasional pop-up, basically a brunch party in an Eagle Rock backyard. But starting this month, you can have them delivered or pick them up at La Perla Bakery, a panaderia on Figueroa in Highland Park (where you can also hand-select a big bag of fresh Mexican pastries, which will set you back about $5).
Once Schreiber and partner J.D. Rocchio (his buddy since seventh grade) found their temporary storefront, "We thought we'd get orders from maybe five people, family and friends," he said. Instead, after a little bit of social media sharing, Schreiber says he can barely keep up with the demand. "We are sold out every week," he says.
The bagels are rolled by hand using organic ingredients "whenever possible," "and our first choice for sources is always the closest," according to the Belle's website.
Belle's sources its flour from a tiny company in Utah and uses no dough conditioners. No bagel contains more than six ingredients, Schreiber says, adding, "Baking is science plus dark magic."
Belle's bagels are available for delivery, or you can preorder and pick them up at La Perla. Choices include plain, poppy seed, sesame or everything, for $9 a half-dozen or $18 a dozen. Add Sierra Nevada cream cheese, (which is just plain whipped cream cheese) for $4.50 (8 ounces) or $7 (12 ounces), House-made lox schmear ($7 for 8 ounces or $10 for $12 ounces), or Michel Cordon Bleu lox ($8.95 for 4 ounces).
Baking takes place Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Orders must be placed at least three days before pickup or delivery because of the extra-long fermentation time Belle's gives its dough "to make it out of this world good."
You can place your order online or call it in. Pickup times at La Perla Bakery are between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday. The delivery fee is $4.99 for the first three miles and 99 cents for each additional mile, only available in Los Angeles and Pasadena.
Because of the demand, starting Sunday, Belle's will officially take over some space from La Perla's owners inside the bakery, where the bagel makers plan to put up a chalkboard sign declaring, "Come eat me bro," and serve walk-ins, bros and ladies alike.