Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Rebelle bagel-making is done fresh over two days. (Photo: Rebelle)

An MIT grad is coming back to Cambridge this winter with her beloved Rhode Island bagel shop.

Rebelle, which makes from-scratch bagels and spreads, breakfast sandwiches and pastries in Providence, will be coming to 249 Third St., near Kendall Square in East Cambridge, said Milena Pagán, its owner and a former chemical engineer who launched a bagel pop-up in early 2016. Rebelle had a bricks-and-mortar home in Providence’s East Side just eight months later, which became a Rhode Island Monthly “Best of Rhode Island” winner three years in a row and scored Pagán a James Beard Award nomination. (She also owns a restaurant called Little Sister in Providence that’s inspired by the cuisine of Puerto Rico, where Pagán was born and raised.)

Pagán, a 2011 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Thursday in a press release that she was excited to return to where she spent her undergrad years and be “a part of the food scene in Kendall Square.”

“Cambridge was my playground in my college years and I have a lot of love for the city. I am drawn to the energy and vibrancy of Kendall Square, so it feels like the logical next step to continue experimenting and innovating with our bagels in that market,” she said. “I’m forever grateful to the Providence community for supporting my dream of becoming a food entrepreneur.” Little Sister will stay open in Providence when Rebelle relocates, a publicist said Thursday.

Rebelle bagels. (Photo: Rebelle)

Rebelle’s hand-rolled kosher bagels and cream cheeses will make the move with her, including Smoky Harissa, Roasted Poblano Pepper, Mexican Street Corn and Beet and Dill & Horseradish varieties. Sandwiches include an Egg & Cheese and a signature lox sandwich with house-cured salmon with a pastrami spice crust.


There will be a full espresso bar and pastries such as a Halvah & Chocolate Cookie covered in toasted sesame and flaky “pop-tarts” in flavors such as strawberry and brown sugar cinnamon and seasonal variations that include raspberry lime rickey and pumpkin pie – a sugary shelf that makes Rebelle either a complement to or competition with the Tatte Bakery & Cafe that’s just three blocks down Third Street.

The new eatery will compete to provide fresh bagels in the neighborhood with Mamaleh’s Delicatessen; beyond that, Inman Square’s Brooklyn Bagel Factory is the next closest and is none too near, and Harvard Square’s Black Sheep and Porter Square’s Bagelsaurus are farther.

By Rebelle’s description, Kendall Square and East Cambridge residents won’t have to miss those shops. Its bio of Pagán calls her a self-taught baker who “honed her recipe for the perfect bagel through relentless experimentation using the highest-quality ingredients, a two-day fermentation and shaping process and a lot of love.”

By the store’s description:

The process starts at 3 a.m., when the bakers make the dough using flour, water, sugar, yeast and salt. They let it proof, then cut the dough and roll each bagel by hand. The bagels are cold-proofed over 24 hours, a process that slows down the fermentation, adds more flavor and gives the crust a beautiful blistered look. The next day, the bagels are boiled in malted barley and alkaline water, seeded on both sides and then baked to perfection before they’re served fresh every day.

Rebelle was asked Thursday to give more specifics on an opening date, but a publicist said more information would be available only when planning begins for a soft opening.

This post was updated Oct. 11, 2023, to note that Mamaleh’s Delicatessen serves fresh bagels.