Remember the leisurely mornings of your childhood? Remember colorful bowls of cereal, pastries slathered with blue frosting, and cartoons on TV before school? Carefree and sweet, the a.m. used to be such a simpler time. You woke up rested, grown-ups shuttled you around. Coffee was the least of your worries and once again, there were cartoons.
Baker Scot Rossillo, who opened his first Bagel Store in Williamsburg 15 years ago, has found a way to capture some of that child-like joy with his latest concoction, the Rainbow Bagel. Working out of his Bagel Store location on Williamsburg's Southside, Rossillo has created something of a phenomenon, one propelled by social media and founded on decades of experience. “These colors do make you happy," he said while rolling out rainbow dough in his kitchen. Brushed with butter and marbled ROYGBIV-style, the bagels are already multicolored long before they're put on sale, and working with them every day gives Rossillo "personal therapy."
"If you're having a shitty day," he says. "I'll guarantee this'll make your day better."
Rossillo, 49, grew up in Gravesend and boasts that he grew up in a bagel store. Over the years, rainbow bagels became a kind of personal hobby—fun treats he made in small batches for friends, family, and himself. But in 2015 he decided to bring them to the marketplace. Since that happened, Rossillo has made untold thousands of "traditional" rainbow-style bagels, red velvet bagels, pink and blue cotton candy bagels, and all-purple batches for NYU events. He's concocted sweet "funfetti" cream cheese to pair with them. His stock sells out daily, and on weekends The Bagel Store's rainbow offerings are all gone in three hours, sometimes less.
“I really look at it as an art form, I love what I make," Rossillo said. "I’ve eaten every one of my bagels thousands and thousands of times, but I don’t need to do that in order to maintain a creative aspect any longer.”
When it comes to flavor, the batches can differ, based on which colors and ingredients are inspiring Rossillo on any given day (during a visit last month, the baker confessed to being in a Disney Princess state of mind), but each rainbow bagel blends a light sweetness with a soft, hearty texture. In a world where donuts refuse to abide by sugar limits, or even sanity, the rainbow bagel is in fact a pretty sensible choice.
On a good day for Rossillo, five hours of mixing, kneading, and baking can yield two hundred bagels, but Rossillo admits that, were he sticking to a more monochromatic recipe, he could crank out five times as much product. "It's really a passion of love, not a passion of profit."
"The bagel industry in itself is very mundane," he assured. "It's very, very basic, and I'm not a basic kind of person, so I took it to a different level."
The Bagel Store is located at 349 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg