As Passover draws near, many of us think about making our own matzo ball soup. Then we think again. Who needs the tsuris? There are so many ways to screw it up, like overhandling or undercooking the matzos. And there's the knotty question of knaidel density: Which is superior, the floater or the sinker? In the end, it's often best to leave these things to the pros—as savvy (or perhaps lazy) New York Chowhounds do at these five reliable favorites, listed alphabetically.
2ND AVE DELI
It's just what the doctor ordered: Jewish Penicillin, a deeply flavorful chicken soup with matzo ball, carrots, and noodles, kasha, or rice. Boost the dosage as needed with the Chicken in the Pot, which features half a bird.
162 E. 33rd Street (between Third and Lexington avenues), Manhattan
One of Queens's best-loved delis, in business for nearly 70 years, can be counted on for great matzo ball soup (pictured)—as well as generously filled sandwiches and outstanding stuffed cabbage and other old-world comforts.
96-40 Queens Boulevard (between 63rd Drive and 64th Avenue), Rego Park, Queens
This Theater District institution serves a standout matzo ball soup, with egg noodles and meaty chunks of chicken, in a grand old art deco dining hall that's also known as the Polish Tea Room.
At the Hotel Edison, 228 W. 47th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), Manhattan
Best known for its peppery smoked beef, a Canadian cousin to pastrami, this Montreal-style deli also makes 'hound-endorsed matzo ball soup. On Sundays it might turn up with an Eastern twist—as chicken and egg drop soup—as part of Mile End's prix-fixe Chinese dinner.
97-A Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street), Brooklyn
Generations of 'hounds have been fortified around the clock by Sarge's Old-Fashioned Chicken Consommé with matzo ball and a choice of kreplach, rice, or noodles. Hungry or indecisive diners can go big with the Souper Soup, which contains both kreplach and noodles.
548 Third Avenue (between E. 36th and 37th streets), Manhattan