Simit — ‘Turkish Bagel’ — Invades the Upper West Side


The simit tastes pretty good, but is it actually a bagel? Above: the whole-wheat simit

A neophyte chain called Simit + Smith has introduced a new sort of bagel to the Upper West Side. In Turkey, it’s known as a simit, but there are a half-dozen other names for it in the Middle East, Greece, Romania, and the Balkans. But will New Yorkers accept a new breakfast pastry that looks something like a bagel, but doesn’t taste much like one?

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The whole-grain simit with black olive paste and kasseri cheese ($3.99)

The bread rings — which come in original sesame, whole-wheat sesame, and whole grain — are manufactured in a Cliffside, New Jersey, factory, and the budding chain has plans for opening as many as 20 retail stores in the next year. Note that this pastry has long been available in Middle Eastern groceries and bakeries on Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue and Bay Ridge, and in Astoria in Queens.

Just down the street from a kosher bagel bakery on West 72nd between Broadway and Amsterdam, Simit + Smith will deliver your simit plain, with butter, with cream cheese (really, more like feta), or with olive paste and kasseri cheese. The same pastry is also available in an elongated roll format, on which the chain makes sandwiches.

The “original” simit with cream cheese

The simits, which are often vended from carts in Turkey, are nutty tasting and bready, but if you expect the rubberiness of a regular bagel, or its density, you’ll be disappointed. Those watching calories will probably find the simit somewhat dietetic compared to a bagel, with simits having about two-thirds the calories of bagels. While bagels have added sugar, simits do not.

But can you call it a bagel? Probably not, since a bagel is boiled before being baked, and a simit isn’t. Nevertheless, among breakfast alternatives if you happen to be in the neighborhood, the simit with cream cheese ($2.49) is a tedium-breaking option.

The Simit + Smith website announces that a branch will soon be opening near Wall Street.

Are New Yorkers ready to welcome simits?