Utopia Bagels, one of New York City’s best bagel shops, is expanding for the first time since opening in 1981 in Whitestone, Queens. Utopia is targeting opening at 120 E. 34th Street, on the corner of Lexington, in Murray Hill, in June 2024.
Anthony Pantaleo opened the Queens bagel shop more than forty years ago, cementing itself as a local staple. In 2013, Utopia took over a neighboring storefront, expanding its workspace, and with it, began to gain greater citywide acclaim and a regular appearance on Eater NY’s best bagels list. To date, Scott Spellman, who joined Utopia during this era, runs the daily operations with his son, Jesse Spellman who has helped the business gain attention on social media.
Thinking about how to move the legacy bagelry into its next phase of life, the Spellmans have paired up in Manhattan with Jimmy and Angelo Tsoulos, the sons of restaurateur Nick Tsoulos, of the Avra Group.
The Manhattan location, slightly smaller than the original, will, like the Queens Utopia, feature a glass window, that allows customers to get an inside look at the bagel-making process.
Jesse Spellman tells Eater that they selected Murray Hill because they were looking for an area in Manhattan with less competition from other bagel shops, being centrally located, while also still feeling like a neighborhood: “It was important to us to pick somewhere that still keeps the family feel, and here we’re also located near hospitals and schools.”
Over the last decade, New York has experienced a bagel renaissance since the opening of Black Seed and, more recently, newfangled shops like Pop-Up Bagels, Leon’s, and the forthcoming location of Apollo Bagels.
As for what has always helped cement Utopia as one of the city’s classics over its decades in business: “It’s what you do with the water. It’s how much water you put in, it’s how much, when you proof, [when] you let in the air,” the elder Spellman told Eater in 2022. “Those are the things that are not talked enough about... It’s those techniques that make our bagels what they are.”