Faced with eight days and nights of religiously prescribed meals, it can be tempting to take the easy way out, and simply raid Key Food’s Passover aisle for jars of gummy, Manischewitz brand gefilte fish and packets of powdered matzoh ball soup. But believe it or not, prolonged abstinence from leavened bread products can almost be kind of pleasurable, provided you outsource your Seder needs to notable mom-and-pop shops throughout Brooklyn.
Matzoh: Matzah Bakery
With its 100-year-old factory on the Lower East Side (and reliable presence in most major grocery stores), Streit’s holds a whopping 40% of the U.S.’s matzoh market. But we’d just as soon stock up on crackers at Crown Heights’ own Matzah Bakery, which makes its round, wood-fired Shmurah matzoh (available in regular, whole wheat, or even spelt versions) by hand; using wheat that’s been guarded from the time it was harvested.
460 Albany Avenue, Crown Heights
Gefilte Fish: Gefilteria
Our childhood Seders would have been so different, if only Gefilteria had been around to spare us from those frightful, gelatin-gobbed fish lozenges culled from a Manichewitz jar. Available online, or through shops like Shelsky’s, Marlow & Daughters, and the Greene Grape, the filler-free loaves are made with sustainably sourced whitefish, pike, salmon and steelhead trout.
Chopped Liver: Shelsky’s
Forget the phrase “What am I, chopped liver?”—because according to Peter Shelsky, the pureed, spreadable chicken offal is the most wonderful thing that anyone could possibly be. So it only stands to reason that his appetizing shop stands firmly behind its creamy, duck fat-laced liver, flavored with onions, salt, white pepper, and a shot of sweet brandy.
141 Court Street, Cobble Hill
Matzoh Ball Soup: Mile End
This is the dish that no one will ever be able to make as good as our grandma. But we’re willing to let Mile End try, with its undeniably rich, dill-scented stock bobbing with schmaltz-slicked matzoh balls (which, it should be noted for strictly Kosher diners, achieve their feather-light consistency through a forboden addition of baking powder).
97A Hoyt Street, Boerum Hill
While brisket has become largely associated with barbecue, we’ll always have a soft spot for the sweet, slow-braised Jewish version. And since it’s so often a centerpiece of traditional Seder meals, forgo shrink wrap-suffocated sides of supermarket meat, and order the pasture-raised beef brisket from Fleisher’s, from animals that are antibiotic and hormone free, humanely raised, and ethically slaughtered on small, family-run farms.
192 5th Avenue, Park Slope
Wine: Schnapp’s Kosher Wine and Liquor
Seriously, Elijah can have all of our Manichewitz. Because if we’re compelled to drink four cups of sweet wine in a row, we’re buying our bottles exclusively from Schnapp’s, which boasts an unbeatable selection of Kosher wines from all around the world, from Yarden Pinot Noir to Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre to Herzog Orange Muscat.
404 Avenue M, Midwood
Passover Candy: JoMart
We enjoy mass market, special-for-Passover jelly rings and marshmallow twists in the same way we enjoy Peeps and Cadbury Cream Eggs—because they’re tied up with our carefree, childhood memories, not because they’re actually any good. But the candies at Marine Park stalwart JoMart appeal to the legitimately adult palate, including milk or dark chocolate-enrobed macaroons, marshmallows and matzoh, ganache-stuffed figs, and signature raspberry jellies, made from the owner’s grandmother’s crayon-written recipe.
2917 Avenue R, Marine Park
Flourless Chocolate Cake: Baked
In addition to carrying some of our favorite coconut macaroons in Brooklyn, Baked excels at another Pesach classic—the flourless chocolate cake—a ridiculously fudgy confection swaddled in an extra-rich chocolate ganache, and ringed with crunchy, roasted almond slivers.
359 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook