The idea of having a holiday ritual meal in a restaurant always seemed depressing. Thanksgiving and Passover meant hanging out with my friends and family in a private home, with no public or any shared space involved whatsoever. The exception being Christmas, which doesn't count since we don't celebrate per se it and always eat out on the eve of the 24th (drinks at Shutters followed by dinner at Javan, as most of our friends know).
Or so I used to think.
While I love cooking for holidays and having folks over, even one or two of these big fat meals per year start to wear on you. It's tiring being The Person That Almost Always Hosts [Passover, New Year's Eve, Thanksgiving if we're in town, etc]. With no motivation to host Seder this year and no invitations coming our way, I made a family executive decision to do the unthinkable: celebrate Passover in a restaurant.
My dad was thrilled. My husband relieved. My mom OK with it. My sister sort of shocked (she doesn't live here anyway, and instead would be hosting 20 people at her NYC apartment). And a few friends were happy to join us.
Evan put together a fabulous, soul-satisfying meal at Angeli with a BYOC (Bring Your Own Ceremony) policy. The price for the traditional trimmings, sweet and sour pesce en carpione, chicken matzo ball soup with dumplings, pot roast, roasted chicken, "mazzagna," spring veggie stew called cianfotta, salad and dessert was more than right at $40. We rushed through my mom's Eight Minute Haggadah in about five due to a restless toddler, but we inspired our dining neighbors to join us for a few rounds of "Go Down Moses" and "Dayanu." It was my second communal meal at Angeli that week; meeting strangers and pleasant conversation is inevitable at the Melrose neighborhood standby.
Best of all we ate a perfect mix of Italian, Mediterranean and Ashkenazi foods (the pasty Sephardic style haroset was a welcome change from our usual chunky version), uncorked our own bottles of very non-kosher Consilience, paid the bill, went home, and woke up in the morning still full and without a pile of dishes to tackle. I think we've found a new tradition.