Technically, the tale of Goldberg’s Famous Bagels, the eponymous carbohydrate slinger of the East End, is one about the Tri-State area. In 1949, Arthur “Artie” Goldberg — a baker, bagel-maker, and member of the bagel union — began a chain of stores in Brooklyn, Queens, and the surrounding areas. When a rift developed among the business partners, Goldberg assumed control of the Westwood, NJ store. That was the beginning, it turned out, of an empire.
Marc Goldberg, Artie’s son, began baking bagels at 14, cooking both for the store and for wholesale accounts. It was Marc, inevitably, who would populate Eastern Long Island with the family bagel stores. When a Southampton bagel storeowner reached out to the Goldbergs for help, Marc decided to seize the opportunity. He fell in love with Long Island and later moved his family to East Hampton, where he became the premier bagel maker of the area.
The family now owns five Hamptons outposts (Southampton, East Hampton, Wainscott, Napeague, and Montauk), three North Fork outposts (Greenport, Jamesport, and Mattituck), and two outposts west of the Canal (East Quogue, Riverhead).
What you’ll find at Goldberg’s Famous are both bagels and flagels — flattened bagels that are somewhere between a bialy and a bagel. Try your luck on a Saturday morning and you may find that the options are limited, but get there early enough and you’ll be treated to a plethora of possibilities.
For bagels, there are 11 varieties: plain, poppy seed, sesame, onion, everything, cinnamon raisin, whole-wheat, egg, garlic, salt, and pumpernickel. The flagels are a little more health-conscious, offering the additional flavors of sunflower, whole-wheat sunflower, whole-wheat everything, and whole-wheat sesame, in addition to the outlier, pumpernickel-sesame.
Goldberg’s offers 15 staggering cream cheese choices, four of which are low fat. There are inventive options, like the cranberry-honey and the cucumber-dill, in addition to the more obvious suspects. And there are three old New York-style tofu whips, something every city-dweller has seen at his or her local deli (and probably, if I had to guess, never actually tasted, myself included). This is a New York City deli on steroids, designed to hold up to even the fussiest of Hamptons denizens.
But Goldberg’s does not end with bagels. There is a hefty menu of breakfast sandwiches, including the almost-scary “Hungry Man,” which includes two eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, cheese, and a hash brown, all on a hero. There are omelets. There is the Jewish staple, whitefish salad, served in sandwich form or in a plastic container to go. There are other salads, too, displayed in a refrigerated case: baked salmon salad, egg salad, chicken salad, and tuna salad. There are made-to-order deli sandwiches, with any kind of deli accouterment you can dream of.
And then there are the specialty sandwiches, some enormous, some restrained. Pastrami with pepper jack on grilled rye with coleslaw is a play on a classic Reuben, while a pepper turkey fajita — pepper turkey, sautéed onions, peppers, and provolone in a wrap — plays to the Hamptons’ more waist-conscious diners.
You can, of course, take your bagels to go and eat them at home. There are separate lines, at the Goldberg’s locations, for those buying bagels by the dozen and those waiting for the perfectly toasted and cream cheesed specimen. There’s no reason why you can’t do both.
The good news is that the East End is blessed with a host of options when it comes to Goldberg’s. No matter where you live, you’re likely to have one within reach. So, when that long, cold winter feels insurmountable, just think of the warm bagels. They’re here, and they’re not leaving anytime soon.