Portland, Oregon’s Bowery Bagels was founded by a native New Yorker who moved to the City of Roses with the goal to replicate the Big Apple’s signature bagels he grew up enjoying. A small team of dedicated professionals and bagel fanatics in Northwest Portland hand roll the dough, made of Shepherd’s Grain flour from the Pacific Northwest, Bob’s Red Mill flours and grains, malt, yeast, salt, and water to create bagels that have a light crunch on the crust, a chewy but not dense interior, and a malty richness.
Bowery Bagels’ sandwiches bear the names of important figures in Portland’s history, such as Giuseppe Arata. Born in Italy, Arata emigrated to Portland in 1883 and established the city’s first liquor store at 267 First Street. One of three brothers, they all came to own wholesale or retail liquor businesses in the area. When prohibition was enacted in 1920, the family became one of the largest importers of olive oil on the west coast.
In homage to this important local culinary figure, the namesake sandwich comprises house-made eggplant Parmesan of slices of the nightshade, tomato sauce, and a very hearty helping of mozzarella cheese. It’s traditionally served hot on a plain bagel, but you can also request a different flavor, such as poppy seed, sesame seed, sea salt, salt and pepper, onion, garlic and herb, everything, multigrain, pumpernickel, cinnamon raisin spice, jalapeno salt, parvesan (contains nuts/seeds), or one of their weekly specials.
It’s an amalgam of great gastronomic traditions — Jewish and Italian — brought to America by immigrants that further enriched this country’s culinary landscape, and that’s why it’s this week’s Sandwich of the Week.