Every major holiday comes with its own menu. The main ingredient for Passover is matzoh, an unleavened bread that symbolizes the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt — one so rushed that there was no time left to wait for dough to rise. Today, Jews around the world commemorate their liberation from slavery with a Seder, a ceremonial dinner for the first two nights of Passover. It is “one of the most popular Jewish events of the year,” says award-winning journalist and Jewish Channel news anchor Steven I. Weiss. “The Seder has a participation rate approaching 90% in New York.” With that figure in mind, it’s no wonder the city’s restaurants have turned to providing traditional, innovative, and eclectic Seder offerings, from elegant multi-course meals to bento-box-style Seder essentials to go. Check out these events and celebrations for Passover dining in New York City. L’chaim!
What makes these nights different from all other nights at Georgette Farkas’s fashionable French-infused rotisserie? An à la carte Seder menu, available April 22 and 23, that goes beyond the brisket and includes such signature whole roasts as Faroe Island Salmon and Jamison Farm Leg of Lamb. Loyal patrons of this Upper East Side favorite will find much to adore this Passover. Of the Crispy Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon at Rôtisserie Georgette, owner Farkas says, “This dish is inspired by my mother. Like her potato pancakes, ours are thin, crisp, light, and lacy. We top them with a bit of a super smooth and silky smoked salmon and serve them with herbed crème fraîche on the side.” Make a Passover reservation at Rotisserie Georgette.
The name of this gem of a restaurant in Nolita is the Yiddish term for “the perfect housewife, homemaker, and hostess.” But, as any Jewish mother worth her (kosher) salt knows, preparing the perfect Passover meal is anything but easy. For those who want to skip the tsuris but still enjoy a home-style Seder, look no further than Balaboosta’s 5th Annual Passover event on Sunday, April 24 at 6:30PM, hosted by Einat Admony (also of Taïm—and Taïm truck!—fame) and Ilan Hall (Top Chef winner and host of Esquire Network’s Knife Fight). Live music is also on the menu and guests will receive a mini jar of chef Admony’s homemade harissa.Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on kids’ tickets. Make a Passover reservation at Balaboosta.
For more than a decade and counting, chef Bill Telepan’s eponymous Upper West Side eatery — a pioneer in Greenmarket cuisine —offers a four-course menu (for kids, too) that features creative twists on traditional Seder fare (a dried-fruit chutney-apple salad for the haroset is just one example). On April 22 and 23, diners can expect a spirited atmosphere, a helpful wait staff, and Telepan himself (a true mensch if there ever was one) when Seders are in session. “Extra seating for Elijah is available upon request,” Telepan says. Make a Passover reservation at Telepan.
Mile End Delicatessen
Their use of the Unorthodox Hagaddah says it all: Expect an evening of delicious secular delights — including live music and comedy—at this year’s Seder, hosted by one of the city’s best-loved delis on Saturday, April 23. NOTE: The meal is not kosher — which, for many of the event’s participants (Jewish and non- alike), only adds to the irreverent fun. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry initiative, which is a mitzvah in and of itself. Make a Passover reservation at Mile End Delicatessen.
Can’t make it to the Rue des Rosiers in time for Pesach? Daniel Boulud, the celebrated, Michelin-starred French chef behind the restaurant Daniel, caters Passover dinner through Bar Boulud neighbor Épicerie Boulud with his elegant take on traditional Seder plate offerings, as in Herb Potato Latkes (because why should anyone have to wait until Hanukkah?) and matzoh covered in chocolate ganache and sprinkled with fleur de sel. Seders are “served” by delivery in Manhattan or available for pick-up. And gourmet gift boxes are available to ship nationwide.
James Beard House
James Beard: A proper noun that is synonymous with culinary expertise and, now, Sephardic-Jewish cuisine. That’s the theme of the JBH’s Passover event this season, with celebrated Tel Aviv chef Raffi Cohen holding court. Enjoy a French-Moroccan spin on traditional (and Ashkenazi) Seder staples—a spice blend of ras-el-hanout to go with the karpas — and spirits from the Golan Heights Winery. Make a Passover reservation at the James Beard House.
Even the bitter herbs (the maror portion of the Seder) get a tasty, though caliente, makeover at this Passover fiesta — roasted beets, scallions, and avocado with a horseradish dressing, served with crispy parsley and matzo meal tortillas (available April 22 and 23). Did we mention the Passover Margarita Tradicional, made with Herradura Blanco tequila, lime, and organic agave? Another round of Dayenu, por favor. Make a Passover reservation at Rosa Mexicano.
Elizabeth Wildman has written about Jewish life and culture for the Forward, Killing the Buddha, and Jewcy, among other publications, and she is the copy director at St. Martin’s Press. A vegetarian mother to two omnivorous young children, she lives in New York.
Photo credits: Mitzi Morris (James Beard House/courtesy of).