Montclair’s Simit House Bakery Opens, Serving Turkish Delights

simit owner
Simit House Bakery owner Ibrahim Yagci, posing with two things he loves:
Turkish coffee and his painted bowl collection.

Ibrahim Yagci is bringing a taste of Istanbul to Church Street.

The owner of Simit House Bakery & Co. recently opened a corner café in the space vacated early this year by the Tory Janes shoe shop. Yagci will serve simits–sesame studded circular loops of bread sold for centuries by street vendors in his native country.

simit interior
A corner bakery bright with natural lighting

Although simits are sometimes called “Turkish bagels,” that’s a bit of a misnomer. They’re closer to a pretzel-bagel hybrid. Unlike bagels, simits aren’t boiled before baking. Instead, they’re dipped in a mix of molasses and water, then dredged in sesame seeds and baked. They taste nutty and bread-like, rather than rubbery and dense, and are infinitely easier to bite into. While it’s true that simits and bagels are both created from a ring of dough, so are doughnuts–and even cronuts (croissant-doughnuts). We in the New York metro area sure like our doughy hybrids.

Yagci’s inexpensive, all-natural simits can be eaten plain, with flavorful sour cherry jam, or served with a selection of sides that include labneh (strained yogurt), hummus, olive paste, feta, and the less traditional Nutella.

Mustafa, a Turkish baker for over 20 years.
Mustafa, a Turkish baker for over 20 years

Simits, while new to Montclair, have long been available in Middle Eastern grocery stores and bakeries in parts of Brooklyn and Queens. You can also get them at Paterson’s Taskin Bakery, and Simit & Smith of Cliffside, NJ, has several outposts in Manhattan.

Why did Yagci open shop in Montclair, rather than Manhattan? “I love it here. It’s the best town around,” says Yagci, who lived for a short time in Montclair before moving to Clifton a couple of years ago. “I love the demographics, and that people are willing to try new things.”

The bakery is selling other Turkish foods as well, most notably pogaca (poo-WAH-chuh), which looks something like an empanada, and is stuffed with olive paste (my favorite), feta, chocolate, or raisin and walnuts. For those looking for a heartier fare, Simit House Bakery will soon be serving omelets, along with chicken, turkey, roast beef and vegetarian sandwiches.

simit turkish coffee
Turkish coffee: a legal drug

Yagci’s imported Turkish coffee deserves special mention. The super finely ground beans are boiled in a pot and served in lovely porcelain cups, where the grounds are allowed to settle. One small serving delivers a sweet, potent dose of caffeine. “It’s a legal drug,” confirms Yagci. (You can also get wonderfully rich Turkish coffee at Java Love in Upper Montclair.)

And don’t dare miss dessert. Yagci serves traditional baklava, and a darker, similar pastry called sarma, which means “wrap” in Turkish. “It’s very elegant, and was traditionally served in palaces,” says Yagci, who describes it as phyllo dough loaded with caramelized pistachios. I loved that the treat was less sticky and sweet than baklava. It’s yet another “Turkish delight” to be discovered at Simit House Bakery.

Baklava, cookie, and sarma
Baklava, cookie, and sarma

 

Address:

2 Church Street, Montclair

Hours:

Mon-Thurs: 8 AM to 8 PM
Fri: 8 AM to 10 PM
Sat-Sun: 9 AM to 10-11 PM

 

simit logo

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I’m fairly sure that the last thing anyone of Circassian, Kurdish or, especially, Armenian descent will ever want is “a taste of the former Ottoman Empire.”

    Really, does anyone ever edit this gush before it appears on Baristanet?

  2. It is great to have such a nice addition to Church Street. The Montclair we know and love will be really pleased with this baker’s delicacies.

    cathar, your ignorance about others somehow gets the better of the good in you.

  3. I’m waiting for Michelle Bachmann to descend on this bakery and accuse the owners of attempting to infiltrate Montclair with the infectious scourge of Sharia law.

  4. I hear that there’s a young lad named Pevensie who really wants to know exactly what sort of Turkish Delight is on offer.

  5. how are the prices? is this going to be another version of the 5$ cupcake shop?

    I hope that turkish pastries are less pretentious and more affordable than the hipster crap we are used to

  6. Prices are VERY low — a few dollars each. Baklava was the freshest and most tasty I’ve ever had, and they had a number of varieties. VERY good place!

  7. Lovely, small shop. Mustafa explained each type of baked goods to me, and I chose two of each to take home. Price point fabulous. $1.60 coffee, $2 Turkish coffee. The best deal on Church Street. Reminds me of the goodies I used to buy on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. I wish the owner and staff much good luck and a long run!

  8. I stopped by over the weekend. Turkish coffee and simits (sesame and almond) were delish . . . all for under $5.

    Great location on corner of Church and Bloomfield, as it doesn’t “get lost” in middle of Church Street.

  9. Lines at the counter this weekend all three times I passed by this weekend. The simits are $1.60, not very costly. And really tasty.

Comments are closed.