Why cook for Passover and Easter this year when you could do takeout?

While many are pondering the parallels of biblical times to current events, one thing is for sure -- almost everyone’s Passover (starting April 8) and Easter (April 12) holiday tables will be hosting smaller crowds this year. Distant relatives, friends, and potlucks are out. 

The good news? Take-out and delivery options are ramping up just in time.

The new normal: curbside and delivery

The coronavirus has left restaurants and supermarkets unsettled and scrambling to make their businesses work in this new normal. Understandably, the spring holiday menu has not been at the forefront of their concerns. For example, among traditional supermarkets in the area, as of this publication, only Fresh Market was offering a formal Easter and Passover selection available for pre-order. 

Check-in with your local restaurants and favorite eats 

“What would you like to see on the menu for Easter?” asked Michael Reilley, owner of Michael’s Grill in Carrollwood, when contacted for this story. He is thinking of doing “a nice ham dinner to go” but hasn’t crossed that road yet. Michael’s, like many local restaurants, has converted to a strictly curbside and delivery operation for the time being. He says they have really focused on making it a streamlined experience, “there’s no signing, just a verbal signature. You just call, and we get all the information from you, even bread, butter, wine and where you would like your meal to be placed – front seat? Back seat?”

Felix Piedra, owner of the upscale Spanish-cuisine Vizcaya Restaurant in South Tampa says his restaurant is offering family-style home cooking-type meals, serving customers in what he laughingly calls “an improvised drive-through.” He is setting up a welcome tent for his curbside operation to minimize contact. As Piedra juggles his increasingly-busy curbside business, he hasn’t had a chance to formalize an Easter menu quite yet but says he is thinking along the lines of “leg of lamb, paella, roast pork -- Latin-oriented.” 

Mise en Place near the University of Tampa and The Dewey in St. Pete Beach are teaming up to offer a special 4-course Easter dinner consisting of holiday muffins and breads, a spring charcuterie plate, brown sugar, grainy mustard glazed Angus beef briskit with a veggie medley, and a choice of goat cheesecake with fresh berries or cream cheese almond cake. The price is $69 for two or $135 for four. Call 727-455-1415 or e-mail [email protected] to place an order.

Seminole Heights-based food truck, South of Broadway, normally serves international street food -- Barbacoa tacos, NY Style sausage and peppers, Dominican chimichurri burgers and the like. But the truck’s owner and chef, Nancy Frasca Cabazares, says she’s taking customer orders for Passover and Easter - brisket, chicken, leg of lamb -- “whatever people want,” she says. “I’m trying to make everyone’s holiday easier.” 

For Easter, Season’s 52 is offering glazed spiral ham and wood-grilled beef tenderloin dinners, complete with salad and sides that serve four to six -- and mimosas to go! They suggest you preorder for free delivery or pickup on Friday or Saturday. The Honey Baked Ham Company is offering $10 off any bone-in half ham for Easter with a coupon from their website. Carrabbas, which is not yet offering a specific menu for Easter does have a Spring 15 offer -- 15% off of your total bill, $15 bottles of wine, and free delivery. Check their social media for details.

And Buddy Brew is offering brunch for 4. One order is priced at $39 and consists of poached eggs, butter croissants, ham steaks, and a big Box of Brew. Add $5 each for mimosas. Call 813-670-6999 to order for delivery or curbside pickup on Saturday or Sundy, April 11 or 12. Deadline to order is Friday, April 10.  

Passover options on firmer footing

The Jewish high holiday of Passover, which starts next Wednesday evening and lasts for eight days, kicks off with the lengthy, tradition-laden seder dinners that stage the retelling of the Jews escape from slavery in Egypt.  

At this time of year Lynn Mollett, owner of Lynn’s Catering, is usually prepping communal sit-down seders for hundreds at local area synagogues and universities. Not happening this year. 

Instead, she is delivering the complete kosher-for-Passover seders -- from matzah ball soup, charoset, and gefilte fish to the main entrée and dessert -- to homes across the entire Tampa Bay region. 

“You can do a virtual seder with food coming from us,” she says. “We’ve been helping the community for 18 years and I feel like the community is giving back to us. People are excited because they can enjoy Passover and we are delivering to their door. They are thrilled about that, and we are happy to be able to help the community celebrate Passover in this madness.” 

Nosh Caterers, who operate out of Kol Ami Synagogue’s Glatt kosher kitchen, is offering three entrée choices for their Passover seder meals. They also offer a la carte style. You can even order a shank bone - required for the Passover plate - in case you are having trouble finding one this year.  

TooJays in downtown Tampa has a broad Passover offering for curbside pick-up and delivery. Jo-el’s Delicatessen & Marketplace in St. Pete is closing Sunday April 5th for Passover but is offering some prepared foods until then (they will have morning hours April 13-14th to serve Passover food only “in case people are running out”). 

Mise en Place is offering a special Passover meal of Matzah Ball Soup, Slow Cooked Brisket with Potato Kugel and Braised Red Cabbage with Apples, and Marscapone Cheese Blintzes. It's $26 per person. Call 727-455-1415 or e-mail [email protected] to place an order. 

Lots of options

Bottom-line: call your favorite restaurants, eateries, food trucks, caterers for special holiday meals and, of course, for the everyday. They are flexible, they need support and they want to help meet your needs for a successful Easter and Passover dinner. Happy spring holidays to all.

Here are links to the websites of restaurants mentioned in this story:

Read more articles by Kendra Langlie.

Kendra Langlie is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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