The City's Upper Crusts
amNew York
January 11, 2011

New York City bakeries are challenging the idea that man cannot live on bread alone. Our city offers artisanal breads so good, that toppings seem almost superfluous.

Bread is at the center of the back-to-basics food movement in New York, said Candy Argondizza, assistant director of Culinary Arts at the French Culinary Institute. She has seen bread baking classes at the institute fill up with people who want to learn to make a perfect loaf in their home kitchens. In fact, the school has had to increase its number of bread-making classes of late.

New Yorkers are also passing over the pre-sliced loaves at the supermarket for bakery-fresh varieties.

“It’s part of the whole slow food movement,” said Paul Mack, head baker at Eataly.

amNewYork details where to find some of the city’s best breads.

At L’Ecole, the restaurant at the French Culinary Institute (462 Broadway, 888-324-2433), student bakers make several kinds of bread for brunch, lunch and dinner.

Balthazar Bakery (80 Spring St., 212-965-1414) offers breads for downtown New Yorkers who can’t get enough of it at their restaurant. The boules are beautifully crafted and marked with a “B” on top of the crust. Bring home a Pain de Seigle, a French rye sourdough ($11.50 for a medium), and the Valrhoda chocolate ($9).

Eataly (200 Fifth Ave., 212-229-2560) offers 27 kinds of bread, including a soft bread, soaked in olive oil ($3.20) and classic loaves flavored with ingredients such as fig, pancetta and provolone. Eataly also uses a wood-fire oven, fueled with eco-logs, and uses 100 percent natural yeast smuggled into New York from the Eataly in Turino.

Hell’s Kitchen
Although artisanal breads are enjoying a revival in New York, places such as Sullivan Street Bakery (533 W. 47th St., 212-265-5580) have been creating crusty, chewy loaves for more than 15 years. From the Italian-style brioche, a sweet bread with a light texture ($6.50), to the Pullman, made from 10 different grains ($6.50), this small, no- frills bakery is a neighborhood favorite.

Amy’s Breads (672 Ninth Ave., 212-977-2670) has also been baking for New York carb-lovers since the 1990s. Favorites include the whole wheat varieties, with walnuts ($4.95) or golden raisins ($4.25); olive breads ($4.95-5.75) and Challah ($4.95, only on Fridays). Check out the Chelsea Market location too.

Upper West Side
Customers spill out on the sidewalk waiting to get a loaf at the Silver Moon Bakery (2740 Broadway, 212-866-4717). Try the apricot-hazelnut parisienne ($4.50), stuffed with dried apricots and toasted hazelnuts, fig and pepper bread ($4.50) and wheatberry bread ($5.50).

Carroll Gardens
In Brooklyn, locals flock to Mazzola Bakery (192 Union St., 718-643-1719) for the lard bread, a dense, soft loaf peppered with bits of salami ($5.50) and the chocolate loaf bread ($4.50). Mazzola also sells their bread dough, so customers can have fresh warm bread and that bakery smell in the comfort of their own homes.

By VL Hendrickson