Regardless of whether or not you go for the full Pesach Monty, complete with new dishes and kosher-for-Passover condiments, committing to eight days sans chametz (Hebrew for leavened foods that are forbidden during Passover) will be a challenge, thanks to the ubiquity of the five grains — wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats — we must omit from our diets for the duration of the holiday.
I grew up in a kosher home, where Passover is my mom’s favorite holiday. We usually host around 22 people at our seders and my mom cooks everything. “It’s hard to host a big dinner when you work full time, but I enjoy it, so I take time off from work for the holiday,” she says.
Passover isn’t everyone’s favorite time of the year, though. First grade teacher Nadine Freedman from Cherry Hill says, “It is my least favorite holiday because everything is altered.” She doesn’t turn over her kitchen — she just doesn’t eat carbohydrate-based foods in the house. “I work full-time, have a 2-year-old and still make dinner every night. Maybe it is a convenience thing or that I’m less observant than my parents. Instead of my dishes, I could eat on paper plates, but that would be a waste for the environment,” she explains.
For me, there is a silver lining to getting the house ready for Passover. The ritual of cleansing motivates me to observe Passover. It’s like flushing out the heaviness of winter foods and preparing for the freshness of spring and summer.
My mom relishes the physical cleansing of her kitchen. “I like changing everything over,” she says. “It is a lot of work, but when everything is cleaned out — the refrigerator, the pantry — it is like a fresh beginning.”
The commitment that we make to observe the restrictions that Passover sets forth can be overwhelming. Cooking meals for eight days straight, including hosting two big dinners, is a lot. “To give myself a break from cooking, I eat out at least one meal and still keep the holiday,” my mom allows.
She’s not the only one. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of both sit-down and catered offerings during the holiday — confirmation that there is no longer such a stigma attached to having someone else cook your Passover meals. In fact, many of the establishments offering dining options listed below are owned by Jews.
Delis are the default option for traditional Jewish cuisine. “We focus on authentic traditional Jewish cuisine,” said Jeff Klein, co-owner of Pumpernick’s in North Wales. “Every recipe has been passed down. If our matzah ball soup didn’t remind people of their Bubby, they won’t come.”
Passover specials will be popping up on menus from all over our area during the holiday. “The dishes that we have been offering at The Global Dish and Supper each year for the past decade and a half are rooted in classic recipes that were handed down to me from my grandmothers,” Mitch Prensky, Supper’s chef and owner, proudly says. “I am looking forward to having everyone try my family favorites.”
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, listings are for kosher-style, not certified kosher establishments.
7909 High School Rd., Elkins Park, 215.557.4480
The recently opened Creekside Co-op will offer catering and à la carte items including sweet-and-sour meatballs, apricot-glazed chicken breast with matzah stuffing, roasted root vegetables and, for dessert, Passover loaf cake. Order 3 days before pick up.
Day By Day Catering
2101 Sansom St., Philadelphia 215.564.5540
Day By Day has been serving the Philadelphia area catered meals for over 30 years. For Passover this year, try their stuffed chicken breast with Swiss chard, mushrooms and leeks, matzah lasagna with spinach and cheese, Bubby Judy’s brisket and, for dessert, chocolate walnut torte. All holiday orders must be placed by March 20. If you are environmentally sensitive, you can order greenware for an additional charge.
Feast Your Eyes
1750 N. Front St., Philadelphia, 215.634.3002
Feast Your Eyes has an extensive holiday menu with both pick-up and delivery options. A la carte dishes offered include FYE’s famous chopped chicken liver, eggplant caviar, Sephardic charoset with dates, pan-seared dorado with Jerusalem artichokes and flourless desserts like strawberry-rhubarb crisp and raspberry almond macaroons. Order by Thursday, March 21.
Weavers Way Coop
559 Carpenter Ln., Philadelphia, 215.843.2350
Weavers Way Chestnut Hill
8424 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, 215.866.9150
Germantown Jewish Centre and its partner organization, Centre JOI (Jewish Outreach Institute), will be at the Co-op to participate in a nationwide pre-Passover holiday tasting program on Sunday, March 17 and Sunday, March 24 in both stores. “Passover to the Matzah Aisle” will feature samples of Passover-friendly foods available in the grocery aisle. If you can’t make this event, Weavers Way offers à la carte items like Aspen Ridge humanely raised beef brisket and essentials like fresh horseradish, macaroons and honey cakes.
Restaurants / Delis
The Buck Hotel
1200 Buck Rd., Feasterville, 215.396.2002
As the photos accompanying this article indicate, the Buck Hotel is doing family-style service for Passover. The three-course meal includes everything — even Kedem wine and plenty of take-out containers for leftovers.
Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen
700 S. Fourth St., Philadelphia, 215.922.3274
38 S. 19th St., Philadelphia, 215.568.3271
Classic items like matzah brei and chicken matzah ball soup are staples on Famous Fourth Street Deli’s menu all year ’round.
Ben & Irv’s
1962 County Line Rd., Huntingdon Valley, 215.355.2000
This 55-year-old institution will be dishing up all of their Passover specialties for enjoying either in their dining room or at home. Don’t miss the roast turkey with matzah stuffing.
100 Springdale Rd., Cherry Hill, 856.428-7878
The Kibitz Room has a full Passover menu for catering, take out, dine-in and Passover bakery items. They make traditional and vegetarian chopped liver as well as potato and vegetable kugel and, for dessert, a variety of macaroons. Call at least one day before to place your order.
La Calaca Feliz
2321 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, 215.787.9930
424 S. Bethlehem Pk., Fort Washington, 215.646.1320
From March 25 to April 1 Chef Tim Spinner will prepare Pesadichah Mexican-inspired dishes like braised short rib taco with morita chile barbeque sauce, chipotle coleslaw and bibb lettuce at both places.
726 West Ave., Jenkintown, 215.884.7204
La Pergola will offer its typically huge Passover-friendly menu throughout the holiday, which includes borscht Romanoff and a Bedouin kebab.
2301-2303 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, 215.978.4545
London Grill will host seders on March 25 and March 26, and will offer à la carte Passover specials throughout the week like McNally’s gefilte fish, braised lamb shank with olives and preserved lemon and sautéed Swiss chard and spring greens. They even extend their menu to their bar with drink specials like The 11th Plague (Manischewitz, walnut liqueur, Absolut and rhubarb bitters).
400 Second St. Pk., Southampton, 215.322.7272
Maggio’s offers three options for celebrating seders on March 25 and 26. You can have your gathering in their ballroom in Hampton Square; you can order their fixed-price dinner to pick up; or you can have the meal delivered.
917 Bethlehem Pk., North Wales, 215.393.5800
Pumpernick’s closes their restaurant during the first two nights of Passover to host seders with two available reserved seating times — 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. They also offer take-out items like Bubbie’s stuffed cabbage in a sweet-and-sour sauce and Moroccan-style chicken baked with caramelized onions in turmeric-honey sauce.
Steve Stein's Famous Deli-Restaurant
9359 Krewstown Rd., Philadelphia, 215-673-6000
102 Buck Rd., Holland, 215-355-0990
Steve Stein's Passover meals are twice as convenient now that you can pick up your order at the Holland location as well as the Krewstown one (limited delivery options are available). All the classics — borscht, sweet-and-sour meatballs, brisket, four types of kugel — are available, as are miniature latkes and almond-crusted tilapia.
926 South St., Philadelphia, 215.592.8180
In addition to serving Pesadichah-style meals, Mitch and Jen Prensky will have pick-up items available at Supper and through their catering outlet, Global Dish Caterers. Order four days in advance. The list of choices includes chopped chicken liver mousse with port wine and crispy fried onions, pickled baby beets with dill, marinated cucumber salad with red onion and coriander and green olive tapenade and matzah crackers, Mitch’s mother’s “world famous” (she swears!) brisket of beef and, for dessert, caramelized apple-matzah kugel.
1519 Walnut St., Philadelphia 215.587.7000
Tiramisu’s three-course Passover menu will be served throughout the holiday, and features Roman Jewish specialties like Jewish Roman-style artichokes, red snapper with pine nuts, raisins and balsamic vinegar, and matzah lasagna.
237 Saint James Pl., Philadelphia, 215.625.8800
Michael Solomonov is offering his annual Passover Mesibah (“party”) from March 25 to April 2 that will include items like hummus and crispy lamb’s tongue, handmade matzah, matzah ball soup with brisket, tomato and Yemenite curry and, for dessert, chocolate almond tart with almond ice cream.
(Note: Citron + Rose will be closed during Passover.)
4382 Main St., Philadelphia, 1.800.816.3463
This Main Street mainstay will be offering seder dinner on March 25 and 26. The Greek-influenced menu will feature a special roasted leg of lamb.
Homemade Goodies by Roz
510 S. Fifth St., Philadelphia, 215.592.9616
Using all non-dairy ingredients, Roz makes Passover baked goods like apple cake, brownies, matzah oatmeal cookies and her delicate matzah brickle, made with caramel, chocolate chips and walnuts. Orders should be placed by March 17.
Night Kitchen Bakery
7725 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, 215.248.9235
Specially baked Passover desserts from Night Kitchen Bakery include coconut macaroons and chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, tarts with coconut crust and chocolate truffle or fresh fruit cheesecake with matzah crust in three flavors: chocolate swirl, plain and strawberry swirl. Place orders by March 20.
Swiss Haus Bakery
35 S. 19th St., Philadelphia, 215.563.0759
Center City’s Swiss Haus Bakery bakes Passover items like flourless chocolate torte, macaroons and macaroon bonbons with chocolate mousse. Place orders by March 18.
Stephanie Singer is the creator of the Bubbi Project blog, www.jewishexponent.com/the-bubbi-project . This article originally appeared in "Passover Palate," a Jewish Exponent special section.