Food & dining

Insider: Doughnuts like you’d get at Verna’s, bagels like you’d get in NYC

Doughnuts from Davis Square Handcrafted Donuts & Bagels.

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Doughnuts from Davis Square Handcrafted Donuts & Bagels.

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Doughnuts and bagels have plenty in common other than their shape. They both provoke controversy about authenticity, density, crispness, and sometimes, weird flavors. George Dardonis, 35, grew up in Somerville and learned the art of making both. He has come, you might say, full circle, and recently opened Davis Square Handcrafted Donuts & Bagels, a 60-seat cafe with a patio, and a beautiful mural of Somerville with its historic landmarks that covers a wall. He always aspired to have his own eatery. “I never thought I could open one in my own city,” says Dardonis, who for years worked as a bagel baker at Cafe Fresh Bagel in Norwood. He shapes the sizable rounds by hand and cooks them New York style — kettle-boiled then baked — and offers more than a dozen varieties of crispy crusted, chewy bagels. Those with seeds are sprinkled generously on top and bottom. A jalapeno and cheddar is spicy enough to make your lips tingle ($2.50 each; $21 for a dozen). The menu also offers Peet’s Coffee and piled-high breakfast sandwiches prepared to order in the open kitchen. “ I want people to see us cracking eggs and that everything is made fresh,” says Dardonis. As for the hand-cut doughnuts baked each morning, one bite of the cakey old fashioned with its crunchy exterior, a buttercrunch, or the melt-in-your mouth glazed honey-dipped, and you’ll conjure up the sweet memory of Verna’s doughnuts, the North Cambridge institution that shut last year ($2.50 each). This is because, Dardonis says, he learned everything about doughnut baking from his uncle Dimitri Hamizidis, who for 15 years was the head baker at Verna’s. “People come in and say they’ve been trying to find a Verna’s doughnut and mine taste similar.” In addition to the nostalgic versions, the baker also crafts new concoctions — doughnuts speckled with Fruity Pebble cereal or oozing with Fluffernutter and strawberry cream cheese. Someday you might even find a bagel doughnut here. “Every week expect something different,” says Dardonis. 377 Summer St., Somerville, 617- 764-0631. ANN TRIEGER KURLAND

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