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Dec 6, 2010 04:58 AM

Desperately seeking matzo ball soup...Western MA

Hola, hounds,

I am in a terrible quagmire. Been sick in bed for a few days and at this point, I'm ready to commit some Faustian ritual for a bowl of matzo ball soup. Normally, I'd make it myself, but I'm at my significant other's house and am also totally invalid and not fit to handle boiling fluids.

Being the nice Jewish girl that I am, this feels like the only option. Where can I get some fresh, hot soup around here? Good, schmaltzy matzo ball soup?


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  1. I don't know a single restaurant in your area. Not a freakin' one. However, if you were in New Haven, I'd send you to Katz's, which is either just over into the Woodbridge town line in from New Haven, or straddling it. It is right off the exit from route 15. It's one of those places that loves their customers to death, or maybe the son of the owner is a cardiac surgeon looking for patients, and the loving parent wants to send business their way. You know, pastrami in a pile bigger than your head not even close to contained by the damp and enfeebled rye bread they use (not that it is bad rye, not at all. It's just that the only rye that could have stood up to such a massively-meaty onslaught was the manna from Westville Kosher Bakery. I mourn, I mourn!) and a side of fries and a hunk of something rich, bigger than a buick, for dessert? That kind of love? The kind that hurts so good.

    Katz's is one of the joints that has free pickles (dills and half sours) and free (awesome) cole slaw on the table. You come for the meat, or maybe a blintz. I don't think of it as a dairy sort of place. Certainly not kosher, not that I care, shiksa moi. If you are on a diet or watching your salt, they have salady options. But you order it and everybody is playing along. You're pretending that it is good for you, they're pretending it is healthy and that they give a rat's ass about salad greens. It's adequate, don't get me wrong. But it will be piled bigger than your head and they'll give you a mess of dressing and really, aesthetically, it will be a offering that has more spiritual connection to an ice cream sundae than a salad. Leave salads to the French or at least a bistro. This ain't a bistro, it's a deli. Have the tongue. You know you want it. And the matzoh balls are respectable, even if they go the crazy route of serving them in a bowl of noodle soup. Because really, what is a good Jewish deli about, if not excess?

    Closer to your state, there is Rein's, which is an exponentially-increased version of Katz's. They have more food, they're bigger, the selection is vaster, and they have an on-site deli. Just get a chocolate egg cream to go and a loaf of rye with extra seeds and a small PAIL of half sour pickles, and sit and eat it in your car and you will need nothing else on this Earth. Except, maybe, some noodle kugel. Yeah. Haven't had their matzoh ball soup, but I am SURE it is delicious and that it would even bring the dead back to life, so, yeah.

    Don't know if that helped, but it made me HUNGRY.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pipenta

      My god, you're speaking of my home town. I regularly mourn the Westville Kosher Bakery!

    2. I feel ya. When sick, matzo ball soup is the cure to which I turn. During my college years, back in the Jurassic Era, I lived in Northampton MA, where there was a good NY-style deli. Now defunct no doubt. I could not find any very promising-sounding listings there. Though you might try:

      Good Thyme Deli
      186 Main Street
      Northampton, MA
      (413) 584-6195

      Admittedly does not sound very echte, but you say you are desperate. Just down the road in Amherst MA is a restaurant that has matzo ball soup on the menu. Again, my guess is that they don't know glatt from a hole in the head, but here ya go:

      Souper Bowl
      96 N Pleasant St
      Amherst, MA
      (413) 253-1855

      Finally, if driven to an act of utter desperation, you should be able to find matzo ball soup at the Whole Foods in Hadley. Their copy promises "tender matzos," which inspires no confidence that they have a clue...

      Whole Foods Market
      327 Russell St
      Hadley, MA
      (413) 586-9932

      Now can we talk? Get the heck out of that frozen hellhole and move somewhere a civilized person can live! I chose New Orleans, but you might prefer Florida, the Caribbean, South America, Asia. Even New York - at least you can get good matzo ball soup there.

      Whole Foods Market
      400 E Johnson Ave, Cheshire, CT 06410

      2 Replies
      1. re: erikschwarz

        Nonsense. There's nothing wrong with the Bay State. The forests and beaches are gorgeous. Cold is good for you. You live longer. Put on a sweater and stop kvetching. A snowy day makes the soup taste better!

        When she's over her cold, she can MAKE her own soup and freeze some for future emergencies.

        1. re: Pipenta

          Snow and cold she needs like a loch in kop. What she needs is a decent deli. And I don't need to put on a sweater. I live in South Louisiana, where we have nice forests and beaches too - and they aren't frozen!

      2. Don't know where you are in Western MA. If you're near Great Barrington, the Great Barrington Bagel place (that's part of its name) has really good take-out chicken soup, every quart has two small matzo balls (but really good, and I'm a tough critic) and carrots and noodles. They call it Jewish penicillin and sell it for $8.00 plus co-pay (their sign). They close about 3 in the afternoon. Good luck, good health, l'chaim.
        P.S. My matzo balls are better, probably yours are too. But for the bought kind, these are GOOD.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BerkshireTsarina

          I wasn't impressed with the matzo balls at Great Barrington Bagel. The soup itself is good: fresh, lots of chicken, noodles and carrots. But I found the matzo balls a bit dense, lacking seasoning and especially lacking schmaltzy flavor. I do love their bagels also.

        2. Hopefully by now, Zammdogg, you have recovered. But if you're still under the weather at your SO's house, do what all the nice Jewish girls do.....send your SO out to one of the places on this thread and have him bring you matzo ball soup takeout. Don't be ashamed. Be a Princess!

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowmensch

            Did it- more or less. I finally buckled down and made myself some soup! 100 degree fever and all. Let it be said that I try, and I try hard.

            For all of you helpful hounds, I give you my personal family pride and joy- the recipe. No doubt you have your own special traditions, but here is ours!


          2. Zammdogg:

            Try Gus & Paul's Deli on Sumner Ave in Springfield. They have matzo ball soup on the menu everyday.