If there was one thing that helped me through the sometimes long and boring weeks in Pavia, it was the promise that during weekends when I wasn’t traveling, I would be at The Bagel Factory in Milan. Yes, you heard me correctly, I became a regular at an Italian eatery that was trying its hardest to appear American, but couldn’t even get the term America’s Favorite grammatically correct.
The Bagel Factory holds a special place in my heart, so special that I insisted my parents and I go there when they came to Italy. While some parents may have been a bit miffed to waste an Italian meal on bagels, my parents were true sports. There’s something about eating a small bagel, made in a country that has no clue what they’re doing and looking out a window that is so ridiculous and refreshing. Innovation isn’t something you find a lot in Italian food, but The Bagel Factory is clearly trying their hardest to offer Italians a new food experience.
While it might seem surprising, I learnt at lot about Italian food from the bagels I ate there. Everything from the relatively small size, to the proposed fillings and the amount of cream cheese they put on a bagel is unabashedly Italian. The manner in which they wrap up the bagel and expect you to eat it with the paper still around the bread wouldn’t, nay couldn’t, occur in America. Though they may not toast their bagels, it’s more an Italian affectation than a statement about freshness. Even the eyebrow raises I received when ordering a whole wheat bagel were undeniably Italian.
The most pleasing part of The Bagel Factory was how it continuously defied my expectations about Italian culture. Unlike most Italian cafes, which operate table service, The Bagel Factory is self-serve. After gettng your bagel and coffee (or bio soda), you can sit for as long as you please. The seats are on a second level and face huge windows. It’s perfect for people watching as no one will gaze at you messily eating your paper wrapped bagel. The interior is nicely decorated with a modern vibe. You won’t find your Grandmother’s curtains on the walls, just simple metal stools and bars. There were always a handful of people who scarfed down their bagels and then went back for another one, but an equal number seemed please to slowly eat one bagel. Some days even saw other expats meeting up there. The Bagel Factory was probably one of the most diverse eateries I visited in Italy.
If you are in Milan and have any interest in modern Italian food culture, go to The Bagel Factory. While I wouldn’t recommend the coffee, there isn’t any bagel that I don’t think would give an American a little bit of a laugh. Roast beef? The Parma bagel? Hamburger on a bagel?!? Yes, you can find all of those there. Though, I must say, the veggie omelette on multi-cereali is really the best.
Do you enjoy bagels? What is your favorite type of bagel?