"Mornin' General," my mostly African-American co-workers would say as I'd drag myself through the doors of Bagel World in Queens, New York, at 5:30 a.m. The nickname had nothing to do with any military bearing or bulldog attitude on my part; when I was first introduced one of the guys said, "Oh, like General Lee," and the moniker stuck. I mention this biographical tidbit as a means of letting you know I was once a bagelmeister, trained in the process of bagel-making and responsible for mixing 300 pounds of dough a day, an experience I believe affords me the requisite perspective to act like a blowhard know-it-all when it comes to these holy rolls.For instance I can tell you that the extra-large bagels wholesaled to eateries that serve extra-large bagel sandwiches are, in industry lingo, referred to as "bulls." I can expound upon how a great bagel exudes undertones of yeast and malt, not sugar and salt. Or how hand-rolled bagels, a near-anachronistic product, are subtly superior to the more uniformly circular, machine-rolled types. And I can unequivocally state that at Mo's Bagel, just south of Loehmann's Plaza in Aventura, you'll find handsomely bronzed, authentic hand-rolled bagels.
Mo opened his namesake establishment in 1995. The big, roomy, recently spruced-up 160-seat restaurant is more deli than bagel shop -- specifically a New York neighborhood "kosher-style" deli serving soups, salads, herring in cream sauce, Hebrew National hot dogs, and all manner of smoked fish and deli meats; matzoh brei, challah French toast, delectably sweet, vanilla-infused homemade blintzes, and thick wedges of noodle pudding made the old-fashioned way -- with a maraschino cherry inside; bakery items such as rugelach, challahs, babkas, and coffee cakes, complimentary squares of the last brought to the tables; egg creams and Dr. Brown's inimitable celery seed-flavored "Cel-Ray" soda; and, of course, nova or lox and a schmeer of cream cheese upon the wonderful bagels, hand-rolled by the talented Albert Fertil, a bagelmeister from ... Haiti!
Furthering the international flavor of Mo's is a fast, friendly waitstaff who hail from Ireland, Israel, seemingly all over the map -- there are as many accents in the air as varieties of bagels. Then again, there aren't that many varieties of bagels, but the important ones are spoken for -- poppy, sesame, salt, garlic, and so on. What I really mean to say is there are no blueberries or chocolate chips in the bread here, or any other such flavorings that serve as an affront not only to all native New Yorkers, but to venerators of bagels worldwide.
2780 NE 187th St, Aventura
305-936-8555. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Tuesday through Sunday 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (starting November; now only open till 4:00 p.m.), for breakfast and lunch on Monday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
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Mo has recently introduced a new line of cold cuts, the same brand served at New York's renowned Carnegie Deli. I'm not certain what they charge at Carnegie, but Mo's soft rye-bread sandwich piled high with juicy corned beef is $8.45 (about the same as half a corned beef sandwich at the newly opened Jerry's Famous Deli in South Beach). It is excellent. So is Mo's.