Montclair, NJ – You probably have your go-to bagel place. There are several options in Baristaville; each one has its merits and often the favorite is the spot closest to home or the train station. But the newest player on the scene, Harvey’s Handrolled Bagels, may just be worth making a special trip.
Crisp shattery crust? Check. Proper chew on the inside? Check. Not too high and fluffy? Double check! These bagels hit all the right notes and are reminiscent of the best bagels in Manhattan – remember the original H&H? Yep, they’re like that.
I recently caught-up with owner Matt Harvey, who answered some of my pressing bagel questions.
First of all, what’s a “hand-rolled” bagel? How is it different than the machine-rolled bagels we are used to?
Hand-rolling the bagels actually helps to develop the gluten in the dough which give the bagel that chewy crust and light fluffy inside. We use a very traditional method for our bagels including the dough preparation, hand-rolling, kettle boiling and baking on cedar boards in a stone base oven. We use high quality unbleached, unbromated high-gluten flour and the dough preparation takes 24+ hours with multiple stages of proofing.
Sounds like a labor of love. So what brought you to bagels?
I started making bagels during the lockdown of the pandemic in March . A lot of people were cooking and trying out other hobbies. I always loved bagels and trying new places when I was working in NYC so I thought I would give it a try. Over time I worked on the recipe and sold them to friends and family for COVID relief charity. Eventually I made an Instagram page for contactless delivery and it started to take off.
What is your background?
My educational background is in biology and psychology at Rutgers New Brunswick. I also took some chemistry when I was pre-med at one point. After college I traveled and played music in indie rock and punk rock bands for a few years and then started a career in medical sales at Quest Diagnostics.
Bagels are a big switch from corporate life! What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day consists of prep of ingredients for the sandwich menu as well as preparation of the dough for the bagels. We also do the hand-rolling of bagels every day before they go into the refrigerator for the night to proof. We do 30 dozen+ on the weekdays and 55-60 dozen on Saturdays and Sundays.
Your shop is in the old Cucina 98 space. What is your connection to Walnut Street Kitchen next door?
I am co-owner of Walnut Street Kitchen with my business partner and Executive Chef of the restaurant, Beverly Lacsina. Harvey’s is a licensed brand at WSK on the bakery side. The restaurant WSK opened in April and Harvey’s opened in September.
Besides a classic bagel with cream cheese, what else is a popular menu item?
The most popular items are the “Jersey City Devil” sandwich [Taylor Ham, fried egg, American cheese, crispy hash browns with spicy scallion cream cheese] and the “Corner Store” sandwich [crispy bacon, fried eggs, cheddar, scallion cream cheese with Good Times OG Mango Rojo Hot Sauce].
OMG, that sound delish! I’ll be right over. What are your hours?
We’re open Tuesday through Sunday, 7am – 2pm
Harvey’s Handrolled Bagels: 98 Walnut St, Montclair; www.harveyshandrolled.com
Mary Connolly is also known as “Marie Fromage”. Follow her in Instagram @MarieFromage