Vibrantly technicolor and pleasantly chewy, rainbow bagels are one of the most prolific trends of the Instagram era. And while the appeal of photographing and devouring a ROYGBIV brunch staple is pretty close to universal, the ones made at Baz Bagel also symbolize queer pride. Owner Bari Musacchio has been keeping Little Italy stocked with Jewish comfort food, including hand-rolled, kettle-boiled bagels, for more than seven years. As a queer-owned business, she’s also cultivated a home for New York’s LGBTQ+ community.
The beloved neighborhood bagel shop is big on charm and kitsch: Portraits of queer icons like Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler greet diners as they walk in; Dolly Parton is often playing; and Golden Girls references abound. Before the pandemic, Baz Bagels even borrowed from the queer bar playbook by hosting bingo nights, where a high-energy host ran each round dressed up as a different iconic “Baz diva.”
“Being a ‘queer-owned’ restaurant was never the restaurant theme,” says Musacchio. “However, if you’ve been to our place, you can feel that we lean into it in our aesthetic and our music. It’s who we naturally are.”
While rainbow bagels are a winning choice for Pride Month brunch, customers order them year-round, along with other specialties of the house: crispy fried latkes topped with sweet applesauce, everything bagel-spiced chicken schnitzel sandwiches, and fluffy challah French toast.
“Baz is fortunate to be born out of this unique community in New York City that celebrates our unique differences,” Musacchio says. “It’s what makes this city so vibrant and colorful.” You could say those cream-cheese-schmeared bagels are a symbol of the city itself.