Best new old-school bagels

Solomon's Delicatessen

Solomon’s Delicatessen executive chef Aimal Formoli has mastered the art of the crisp yet chewy bagel.

Solomon’s Delicatessen executive chef Aimal Formoli has mastered the art of the crisp yet chewy bagel.

Photo by Shoka

Solomon’s Delicatessen is located at 500 First Street, Suite 9 in Davis; (530) 792-7015;

A New York bagel is a beautiful thing, with its shiny, crisp and blistered crust that gives way to a satisfyingly chewy interior. It does not need to be toasted. It is totally delicious all by itself. And it's not remotely similar to the soft rolls masquerading as bagels served by California chains.

Now, thanks to Solomon’s Delicatessen in Davis, the Sacramento region finally has a real, legit bagel.

“Here, we’re more used to the larger, more doughy kind of bagel,” said Andrea Lepore, a co-owner at Solomon’s Delicatessen. “We really wanted the New York style.”

“We wanted to get it as traditional and old-school as possible,” executive chef Aimal Formoli added.

It wasn’t a simple task. Lepore and Formoli brought on Dan Graf as a bagel consultant. (Graf operates Bagel Baron in the Bay Area and has been widely praised for his mastery, including by The New York Times.) While Noah’s Bagels, for example, cooks their pudgy orbs in steam ovens, real bagel purveyors boil and bake them separately. But Formoli learned about a secret ingredient from Graf: lye, or sodium hydroxide. The lye increases the pH level of the water the bagels are boiled in, which results in an extra-crisp, almost pretzel-like crust.

“It makes a complete difference,” Formoli said.

Formoli also infuses more flavor by slowly fermenting the dough for two days. But Solomon’s bagels aren’t exact replicas of Baron’s, and some of the toppings are different, such as the black lava salt option. Regardless, they’re made fresh every day offsite at Grateful Bread and taste great with a smear of cream cheese, loaded with buttery lox or stacked with egg, tomato and smoky pastrami.

While the drive to Davis isn’t far—really, it’s not—Sacramento denizens can also get their hands on Solomon’s bagels via catering and special orders. Meanwhile, construction is underway at the future downtown Sacramento location, but Lepore said it should open sometime later this year. Considering how long Sacramento has waited for a true bagel, a few more months will feel like nothing.