I know, I know, everyone knows how to make a pizza bagel. All you need is a bagel, sauce, cheese, a microwave, and boom, you have something delicious to eat. But humor me for a minute while I explain.
In the Philadelphia suburbs, there is a little place called Delancy Street Bagels. It sells bagels (obviously), and they’re good bagels, but that’s not what makes it so special. It’s what they do with their bagels.
This place has amazing sandwiches that pile high tons of yummy things, is way to much to eat, and even comes with a pickle. It’s perfect. But the best, the absolute best thing on their menu is easily, hands down, the pizza bagel. It’s so good, that I’ve heard New Yorkers, who take pride in both their pizza and their bagels, sing its praises.
So what makes this pizza bagel so special? Why does it draw me to this place time after time? It’s all in the cheese. They use string cheese. And I don’t mean those processed tubes a cheese that always seem to taste better when you do actually peel them into strings. I mean real string cheese.
Luckily, you can find this stuff in the store. I always see this particular brand of Armenian string cheese at my local Safeway. If you enjoy pizza bagels, you have to try this stuff. I’m telling you, it will change the way you look at the ordinary pizza bagel.
Now, I have two other things that I particularly like. The first is, I like using tomato paste instead of sauce. I like that it has all the same flavors, but more concentrated and less soggy. I also sprinkle some za’atar on top of my pizza bagels. It’s a Middle Eastern spice blend that I more or less got addicted to after spending a semester in Israel in high school. When you order pizza in Israel, they give you these packets of za’atar to sprinkle on top and it really just takes pizza to a whole new level. If you don’t have it, or you don’t want to invest in a large amount of it (because it only seems to come in obscenely large quantities), you can always sprinkle on some oregano instead and go the more traditional route. Sadly, I made this particular pizza bagel at my parents’ house, where there was no za’atar. Sigh.
Anyway, I know you know how to make a pizza bagel. I know you don’t need me to give you a recipe because you totally already have your own. But I’m going to share this one anyway. And seriously, give this cheese a chance. It really will change the way you look at an ordinary pizza bagel.
1 bagel (preferably the big, fresh kind from the bagel shop)
3-4 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 log of Armenian string cheese
Sprinkle of za’atar or oregano (optional)
1. Slice the bagel in half and lightly toast it (put it on one of the lowest settings).
2. Top each half of the bagel with tomato paste, then cheese. Place the bagel on a pan or some aluminum foil and bake in a regular or toaster oven at 350F until the cheese has melted, about 10-12 minutes. Then turn the oven onto broil for an additional 2 minutes, until the cheese has begun to brown.
3. Sprinkle your chosen herbage on top of the bagel and allow to cool until you can handle it. Eat while it’s still hot.