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Cary gets another New York import, a new downtown bagel shop

Pizzeria Faulisi is located at 215 E. Chatham St. Suite 101 in Cary.
Pizzeria Faulisi is located at 215 E. Chatham St. Suite 101 in Cary. jleonard@newsobserver.com

For months last fall, the owners of downtown Cary's Pizzeria Faulisi sold bagels, biscuits and doughnuts at pop-ups on weekends.

After growing a following, the owners have decided to give their doughy creations a home of their own.

Amber and Zach Faulisi are opening Big Dom's Bagel Shop in downtown Cary.

In an act of poetic real estate, it will open in a closed Little Caesar's pizza joint about 50 yards from the front door of Pizzeria Faulisi. They signed a lease Tuesday.

Zach Faulisi said the popularity of the pop-up, often selling out each week, inspired them to make a go at bagels.

"It went really well and that was a big influence, feeling confident that we could make a really delicious bagel," Zach Faulisi said.

Big Dom's will reprise the pop-up's menu, selling bagels, big fluffy biscuits and b'doughnuts, their name for baked cake-style doughnuts.

Faulisi described the bagels as a marriage of styles from New York and Montreal, the second city of bageldom. They'll be hand-rolled and somewhat smaller than the gluten bombs of Manhattan, boiled in sweetened water. At the pop-up, the water was sweetened with honey, but Faulisi said he's exploring other options to make the process more vegan-friendly.

The end product makes Faulisi very happy.

"It has to have a good chew, that's the ultimate goal, having bite but not too chewy," he said. "Bagels became a thing for me. The repetition of rolling them out by hand, each one more perfect than the last. We had the pop-up idea, and I grew to love it and wanted to have a space. Bagels have grown on me."

Initially the pop-up was called "Booya Bagels," then became "B-Side Bagels" but will open as "Big Dom," Faulisi said, after their son's name, Dominic.

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Co-owner and chef Zach Faulisi prepares to put a few pizzas in the wood-fired oven at Pizzeria Faulisi in Cary. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

The shop is aiming to open in 2018 and won't mean major construction. Previously, the bagels were made in the pizzeria's wood-fire oven. But Big Dom's will take over the Little Caesar's equipment as well, and Faulisi believes he can replicate the success in the existing ovens. They'll also be using the drive-thru window to dole out the breakfast goods.

For whatever reason, New York bagels have yet to be knocked off their pedestal, protected perhaps by a complicated creation process or a myth that's grown into a legend. Faulisi feels confident Big Dom will join a recent trend of small bagel shops changing hearts and minds, themselves, just another extension of the larger small food renaissance.

"What I really discovered through this little journey is there are a lot of great little bagel shops, particularly in the Northeast, outside of New York," Faulisi said. "Before, New York had this thing and it was New York, New York, New York, but it's just like a lot of things now, people are taking something they love to make and using the ingredients around them."

The Faulisis opened Pizzeria Faulisi in 2017 and serve Neopolitan-style pizza. Both have extensive experience in restaurants. Zach Faulisi is the former chef de cuisine of The Durham restaurant. Amber Faulisi has been a sous chef at Locanda Verde and The Dutch in New York City, as well as at Vivace, an Italian restaurant in Raleigh.

The shop will be at 203 E. Chatham St., Cary. Follow the shop at instagram.com/bigdomsbagels.

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