a plate with gefilte fish, maror and matzah
Housemade gefilte fish from Firefly in San Francisco, which will feature a Passover menu, April 10-19.

Have a ball — matzah, of course — at these local eateries

One might expect Passover to stymie the creative chefs of the Bay Area; with nothing leavened allowed, what are our carb-loving culinary minds to do?

Luckily, local restaurateurs see the restrictions as a challenge, not a cause for alarm.

Per usual, Perbacco is teaming up with Bay Area chef Joyce Goldstein for a menu inspired by the rich, Italian-Jewish culinary tradition Goldstein chronicled in her “Cucina Ebraica” cookbook. The 10th annual dinners will be held on April 12 and 13, two and three days after the first night of Passover, respectively.

Priced at $58 per person, the prix-fixe menu kicks off with haroset and a tray of appetizers before venturing deep into Mediterranean territory, where sardines rub elbows with raisins and sea bass shares space with rhubarb.

But if the pairing of meat and fruit (hotly contested as of late amid the controversy surrounding pineapple on a meat pizza) turns you off, there are plenty of options for each course, including meatloaf with Tuscan white bean casserole and albacore with spring peas.

Perbacco, 230 California St., San Francisco. April 12 and 13. tinyurl.com/perbacco-pesach

Perbacco isn’t the only Italian joint bringing a Jewish twist to the table. Delfina will have Passover specials available at both its main location on 18th Street and its sister establishment, Locanda, two blocks away. The menu will feature such goodies as the Stoll family’s matzah ball soup, famous for the walnut contained within each ball; carciofini fritti with artichokes, Meyer lemon and mint; lamb osso buco; and Mount Lassen trout with crushed English peas, horseradish and crème fraîche.

Delfina, 3621 18th St., S.F.; Locanda, 577 Valencia St., S.F. delfinasf.com

Comal’s matzah balls with jalapeños

For a fifth consecutive Passover, Berkeley’s Comal will be hosting multi-course family-style dinners in its intimate dining room, Abajo. This is no meal for purists; if you thought walnuts in matzah balls were eccentric, chef Matt Gandin one-ups Delfina owner-chef Craig Stoll by putting jalapenos in his matzah balls and plopping them in the middle of caldo de pollo. Seating is limited to 22 diners on each of the two nights.

Comal, 2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. April 10 and 11. tinyurl.com/comal-pesach

Italian? Mexican? Well, Ashkenazi classics aren’t hard to find, either. Firefly in San Francisco is stretching its Passover menu over the entire duration of the holiday, with homemade gefilte fish, chopped chicken livers, matzah ball soup and other staples from April 10 to April 19.

Firefly, 4288 24th St., S.F. tinyurl.com/firefly-pesach-2014

From April 11 to 18, tapas eatery Canela is offering a prix-fixe Passover menu, mostly of classics with creative fusion twists — like matzah ball soup with duck broth (avant-garde!). You’ll also find whitefish with horseradish-tomato broth and saffron aioli, lamb shank with tsimmes mash, and sumptuous helpings of haroset for dessert.

Canela, 2272 Market St., S.F. canelasf.com/events

Delancey Street will serve a three-course lunch and four-course dinner Passover menu from April 11 to 16 featuring matzah ball soup, housemade macaroons and various permutations of brisket, chopped liver and matzah.

Delancey Street, 600 Embarcadero, S.F. delanceystreetfoundation.org/enterrestaurant

plate with hard-boiled eggs, charoset, lamb shank, etc.
Seder offerings at Saul’s Deli in Berkeley

Saul’s Deli in Berkeley is accepting reservations for April 8-11 and April 14-16 for two Passover dinner options. The prix-fixe menu had not been finalized as of press time, but the a la carte menu will be overflowing with Passover classics and a few curveballs, like rockfish chraime (a spicy North African seafood stew) and duck and gribenes karnatzlach (seasoned meatballs).

Saul’s Deli, 1475 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. saulsdeli.com/passover

As it does every year, Wise Sons will be catering both classic seder foods (they’ll even bring you the shankbone, parsley, etc., as long as you have a plate) and more decadent dishes like apricot-braised chicken and carrot tsimmes. The 5-year-old Mission District deli is also hosting a community seder on each of the first three days of the holiday; a spot costs $95.

Wise Sons, 3150 24th St., S.F. wisesonsdeli.com/passover

Market Hall Foods is offering “Everything But The Plate” — all the essentials plus a box of matzah and extra haroset and horseradish for $28.95. They’ll have plenty of classics in-store, including Moroccan chicken for those who are sick of all the chopped liver and gefilte fish (they’ll have both those things too, though).

Market Hall Foods, 5655 College Ave., Oakland, and 1786 Fourth St., Berkeley. rockridgemarkethall.com/market-hall-foods

Daniel Bromfield
Daniel Bromfield

Daniel Bromfield's writing on music has appeared in The Bay Guardian, San Francisco Magazine, Spectrum Culture, Pretty Much Amazing and Emerald Media. He is a former editorial assistant at J.