Tonight marks the beginning of Passover, the Jewish holy festival marking the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. With its large Jewish population, New York is a wonderful place to celebrate Passover, or simply to explore Jewish history and culture on the occasion of the holiday or any time of year.
A number of New York restaurants offer a prix-fixe version of the Passover Seder, the ritual feast that marks the beginning of the holiday. Among the best are Capsouto Freres, Savoy, Tabla and Telepan. Other restaurants offer Passover-inspired twists on their regular menus, including homemade matzo (Commerce), kosher wines and cocktails (Yerba Buena) and roast brisket of beef wrapped in banana leaf (various branches of Rosa Mexicano).
Sources: TimeOut New York and Zagat
Many New Yorkers choose to celebrate with a community Seder at the 92nd Street Y, long a center of Jewish life and culture in New York City.
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, now a mecca of shops, restaurants and nightlife, is perhaps best known as a historic center of Jewish life in New York City.
The Eldridge Street Project, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting Jewish arts and culture, is housed in a beautiful historic building first opened in 1887 to house services for the first Eastern European Orthodox Jewish congregation in America.
Once full of kosher delicatessens and bakeries, the neighborhood only has a few of them left, but the ones that are there are worth a visit. The biggest deli of them all, Katz’s (pictured above), draws natives and tourists alike, as does Russ & Daughters, a family-run fancy food shop open since 1914. Don’t leave the neighborhood without checking out the last remaining old-school neighborhood matzo factory, Streit’s on Rivington Street. A look through the window show the factory’s staff making their famous unleavened bread in a variety of flavors (whole wheat, egg and onion, etc.)