From Our Editors
For 91 years, the Orwasher family helmed their eponymous bakery, situated in what was once a primarily Eastern European neighborhood. They worked in the basement, using a rustic brick oven to create handmade loaves and even inventing, as legend has it, the first slices of pumpernickel.
Today, the bakery’s locale has evolved into the Upper East Side, and the Orwashers have moved on. They sold their shop to baker Keith Cohen in 2007, who not only kept the name, but many of their old-world traditions. Using local, sustainable, and organic ingredients, Cohen makes nearly 20 varieties of his raved-about bread completely by hand. His long fermentation process ensures rich, complex flavors such as cinnamon raisin, craft ale, and New York rye, all pulled fresh daily from the oven. Cohen has even perfected what the Orwashers very well may have invented; his Russian pumpernickel is not only found in the flagship store and at the Orwashers shop in All Good Things Marketplace, but also on Saveur’s list of their 45 favorite loaves in America. And though Cohen has moved to a modern oven for the majority of his loaves, he makes weekly pilgrimages to that same basement oven for his challah and rustic breads.
Bread is what made Orwashers famous, but the bakery also houses many other goodies. Customers can stop in for cookies, pastries, fine cheeses, and jams. Additionally, slices of their breads can be found in restaurants across the city.