A bagel is cut in two. Preferably, the bagel should then be toasted lightly to control absorption of the tomato sauce. Each side is then covered with tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings. The pizza bagel is then placed through a conveyor toaster or in an oven to melt the cheese and warm the bagel. Due to the risk of fire, pop-up toasters should not be used to cook pizza bagels. The dish is usually served open-faced. A commercial product, Bagel Bites, is sold as platters of smaller frozen pizza bagels with a variety of toppings.
The creation of the pizza bagel is often attributed to the demographic composition of the New York metropolitan area. In the early 20th century, Jewish and Italian immigrants often settled together in areas such as Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. Today, these groups populate suburban areas such as Long Island and Northern New Jersey.
These immigrants quickly began to sample the culture and cuisines of their new neighbors and began the process of merging the pizza bagel as a token of the Jewish and Italian neighborhoods multicultural nature, with the Italians supplying the pizza elements of the dish on top of the Jewish-made bread, the bagel.
In 1974 Western Bagel in the San Fernando Valley, California began to sell the pizza bagel with widespread popularity. Although many have claimed responsibility for its invention, it is commonly agreed that the 17 year old store clerk, Bruce Treitman was responsible for its creation. Then in 1982, a stand at the historic West Side Market in Cleveland, OH started selling a product called the original pizza bagel, which is more like a roll with a hole in the center, covered with sauce and cheese. The recipe is still being used by owners Frickaccio's in Cleveland, OH. The pizza bagel was modernized by Great Canadian Bagel in the early 1990s' when Andrew Shopsowitz asked his father if he could put pizza on a bagel.The term "pizza bagel," inspired by the food, has today begun to take on the meaning of an individual who is half ethnically Jewish and half Italian, or a Jew of Italian descent, especially in mixed ethnicity communities on Long Island and South Florida as well as other communities around the country.