Traveling through the Pine Barrens is one way of reaching JT’s Bagel Hut in Forked River. Driving on County Route 539, there is a point where the pine trees shrink as if with the snap of a finger, and that’s how you know that you’re in the Pines.
We pulled in to J.T.’s on a cloudy day, right around 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday. There were a couple of people there—it was not dead by any means. The first thing that customers will notice is that this is a “U-Pick” operation. That’s right, pick your own bagels and bag ‘em, then pay at the register. If you want one with toppings, however, you order at the counter.
The inside of the store is nice: part classic bagel store and part beachy palms-‘n-beige background motif. There are several tables, mostly of four.
The bagels shine here. A few months back, NJ Star Ledger food guy Pete Genovese told us via Twitter that his favorite bagel in the state was JT’s egg bagel with cream cheese. We tried the egg everything with cream cheese, regular everything toasted with CC, and a “pizza bagel.”
These bagels are BIG and FLUFFY too. They flatten when you squish them, with little or no rebound action. None were bready, and none were too chewy. They were very consistent bagels. All had very good flavor. The only complaint? Runny cream cheese.
Leaving Forked River, again via the Pine Barrens, I think that we could safely say that these are contenders for Best in the State. A head-to-head challenge with Wonder Bagels in Jersey City is definitely in order. Would definitely return, perhaps to try a breakfast sandwich, which would work quite well with these ginormous bagels.
JT’s Bagel Hut
918 Lacey Rd
Forked River, NJ