081215bagelmaster5A two-fisted corned-beef Reuben on an everything bagel from Bagel Masters. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


081215bagelmaster3A few clues indicated to PieHole that Bagel Masters, nestled in a strip mall on Broad Street in Shrewsbury, was a good bet for lunch.

The parking lot was full. There was a line of people from various walks of life waiting to place an order. Every table in the deli was taken.

This is just the type of place that makes you wonder, “what’re they giving away?”

081215bagelmaster2All tables filled, it was take-out only for PieHole. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Those in the know call in their orders in advance, we were told while waiting in line; women wearing scrub uniforms from neighboring medical offices and teenagers bobbed their heads in agreement. The store is oven-warm, and yet customers happily sat at the tables to eat.

Frank Morano, manager of the deli cum bagel bakery, says there are 27 varieties of bagels to choose from, with sandwich fillings that include turkey, tuna, cheesesteak, triple-deckers, melts and a breakfast sandwich. We chose the Reuben ($7.95), prompting a second round of questions from the counterman: corned beef or pastrami, Russian dressing or mustard, warm or cold – and on what type what kind of bagel?

Our choice of an everything bagel came piled high with tender, juicy corned beef liberally slathered with Russian dressing and tangy sauerkraut, and topped with a melted slice of Swiss cheese. Into the takeout bag went two garlicky pickles, a small container of potato salad, a plastic fork and a handful of napkins. For this sandwich, the napkins were a necessity.

Does a big, messy sandwich such as a Reuben work when served on a bagel? Yes. The bagels at Bagel Masters are soft and a little more fluffy than their crunchy, chewy New York style counterparts. The bread did indeed soak up some of the juice from the corned beef. Although it dripped onto hands and arms, it was well worth the mess. But aren’t the messiest foods often the best?

Eight people working behind the counter, moving around like a well practiced dance troupe, kept the line going with their light-hearted banter and professional attitudes.

Bagel Masters is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekend. Payment method is cash only. Delivery is available.