Kicking off a super Sunday

Kicking off a super Sunday

Kosher caterers prepare for game day onslaught

“People are looking for easy-to-eat, fun foods” for the Super Bowl, says Jonathan Speiser, owner of Dougie’s in Teaneck. Photos by Jerry Szubin

In football, there are usually three B’s tailgaters keep in mind: Burgers, brats, and beer.

When it comes to Super Bowl Sunday, however, when parties move indoors, menus tend to change to less barbecue-intensive fare and foods fit more for large groups gathered around a television. And while many Super Bowl parties feature heaps of beef-laden cheesy nachos, hot wings with bleu cheese dressing, and pork, kosher football fans – and kosher caterers – have adapted.

“It’s an American holiday,” said Bobby Shorr, co-owner of Harold’s Kosher Market in Paramus. “It’s a big holiday. It’s a very big catering weekend for all kinds of delis. We look forward to it.”

Pesach is the busiest time of year for Harold’s, but after that and the High Holy Days, the Super Bowl ranks right up there. “To me, it’s bigger than Thanksgiving,” Shorr said.

Shorr’s location, just off of Route 17 North, places Harold’s on the way to Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, which he said has been a boon for business on football Sundays as tailgaters stock up.

And the perennial favorite among his customers? Hot wings.

Avi Friede, owner of The Kosher Nosh in Glen Rock, compared Super Bowl Sunday to the Sunday of Chanukah – but without the latkes. And as busy as Super Bowl Sunday usually is, he said, it is about 50 percent busier when the Giants play.

“Families get together with friends and people just order all sorts of platters,” he said. “They don’t need pancakes in this instance, but that’s basically what it comes down to.”

Sometime during the middle of this week, The Kosher Nosh received double its usual month’s supply of pastrami, corned beef, chicken wings, and other meats, Friede said. On Super Bowl Sunday, the Sloppy Joe – a combination of layered sandwich featuring four sliced deli meats – reigns supreme.

“We find them the most popular because they’re easy to handle, you either get all four meats, or whatever meats you like,” Friede said.

Wings are the order of the day on Super Bowl Sunday, says Stuart Kahan, co-owner of Ma’adan in Teaneck.

Stuart Kahan, co-owner of Ma’adan in Teaneck, ranks Super Bowl Sunday as the sixth busiest event of the year, behind Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot. The biggest draw for his customers? Ma’adan’s buffalo wings with spicy chipotle mayo.

Last year, the caterer did about 50 platters for Super Bowl Sunday, but when a local team makes it to the big game, “the excitement is greater,” Kahan said. “The anticipation grows and more of these groups and parties get together to watch it.”

“Go Giants,” he added.

At Noah’s Ark in Teaneck, the overstuffed heroes, burgers, and hot dogs are the most popular items on Super Bowl Sunday, according to owner Noam Sokolow.

“Comfort food has really made a comeback to the mass market,” he said. “They’re guy foods. They’re trendy. When people are making a party, they want people talking about their party.”

And because of the deli’s style of food, Super Bowl Sunday is bigger business for Noah’s Ark than the Jewish holidays.

“We are known for our deli and our burgers,” Sokolow said. “It’s apparent to me why Super Bowl Sunday is the busiest.”

At Dougie’s in Teaneck, where wings, sliders, and poppers are regulars on the menu, Super Bowl Sunday is also the busiest retail day of the year, said owner Jonathan Speiser. “Our style of food definitely lends itself more to the Super Bowl than Rosh Hashanah,” he said.

The biggest sellers on game day, he said, are the heroes, Buffalo wings, and fire poppers, which Speiser described as “traditional Super Bowl foods.” The restaurant’s sliders and pretzel-crusted chicken have also become popular. “People are looking for easy-to-eat, fun foods,” he said. “And plenty of it.”

At Best Glatt in Teaneck, the Super Bowl doesn’t rank nearly as high as the High Holy Days. The market still has its game day specialties, though, and ribs are the most ordered food, according to owner Meir Best.

“It’s traditional,” he said.

No matter who wins the game on Sunday, it is already certain that the real losers are the cows that will be served up at parties across the country. When it comes to the annual celebration of the gridiron, dairy just will not do.

Jody Eisenman of Teaneck is planning on serving “the usual fare” at his Super Bowl party: chips, wings, hero sandwiches, ribs, fries, and onion rings, along with a special cake in honor of the Giants.

“I would only have dairy for guests who are vegetarians,” he said. “Dairy for a football party? It’s sort of like dairy for Shabbes – it just doesn’t fit.”

Dov Wasserman, also of Teaneck, who is hosting his fifth annual Super Bowl party this weekend, agrees. When it comes to picking out a menu, he prefers “having some good, hearty meat main dishes.

“I like the long hero because it’s hearty, it’s tasty, and it’s easy to handle,” he said. “It’s good to have food you can eat with just one hand.”

While he would not avoid a vegetarian party, and he will provide veggie options, for Wasserman, the Super Bowl means meat. Football, he said, on its basest level is a primal male game, and meat is associated with that idea of the primal hunt. His religious upbringing might also have influenced his party menu, he said, as tradition mandates that on Jewish holidays we are to eat meat and drink wine to increase our level of festivity.

While meat appears to be the majority favorite, some households do opt for a milchig meal. Elizabeth Bland of Hoboken plans to make a layered taco casserole/dip with guacamole, shredded cheese, refried beans, a sour cream and cream cheese blend, salsa, and black olives, though she is concerned that “the fleishig people might take over.”

“I lived in Texas for 14 years and it is just not the Super Bowl without a layered taco dip and chips,” she said.

And at the Pinto household in Teaneck, pizzas are the order of the day. Susan and Cesare Pinto will be having a small party for their 7-year-old son, Josiah, and some of his friends from Ben Porat Yosef. Josiah only recently became interested in football and, following his father’s lead, is rooting for the Giants. He is “super excited” for the game, his mother said, and so his parents are hosting the small party with make-your-own pizzas.

“We generally make pizza for Sunday dinner, and my kids don’t like deli, chicken wings, and the like,” Susan Pinto said. ”

Striking the right balance between store-bought food and homemade potluck items is key, said Ori Katzin, who is hosting his 14th Super Bowl party this weekend with his wife Ronit at their Oradell home.

“It’s a lot more personal when people bring a dish, whether it’s a dip for nachos or chicken salad,” he said. “It’s a family event, even if you’re not a football fan.”

No matter what is on the menu, the Super Bowl party is “a good opportunity to get friends together,” Wasserman said, noting that out-of-town friends can easily participate since, unlike on Jewish holidays, there is no restriction against driving.

Added Speiser of Dougie’s, “The Super Bowl has become a national day for everybody.”

Super fan goes west for Super Bowl
Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is not the only octogenarian crazy about football; Stanley Markowitz of Montvale is making the trip this weekend for his seventh Super Bowl.

The 80-year-old lifelong Giants fan has been to every Super Bowl the Giants have played. He has been a season ticket-holder for 60 years and rarely misses a home game. This weekend, he is heading down to Indianapolis with a group of Giants fans from Long Island.

“We might have a minyan there,” he said, about the all-Jewish group of fans. “Going to these games outside of the New York area is a delight because the fans happen to be extremely nice. They make you feel right at home.”

When he does watch the games at home, he prefers to turn off the sound to avoid the commentators and commercials. Nothing beats being there in person, though, he said.

“When you’re at the game, there are no commercials,” he said. “There’s always excitement. You’re rooting for your team, you’re slapping hands with your neighbor. I look forward to going to the games.”

Like many other Giants fans, Markowitz considers himself a superstitious fan. If he is standing while the Giants make a great play, he will stand for the rest of the game, for example. During the play-offs, he said, every Giants fan he knows wore the exact same clothes.

“We’re crazy people,” he said of Giants fans.

““ Josh Lipowsky

Tailgaiting with JoJo
The main show might be on the gridiron, but for true-blue football fans, tailgating is as essential a part of the experience as the game itself.

JoJo Rubach, a vice president at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly and a Tenafly resident, and Charles Klatskin, a member of the JCC’s board of trustees and an Englewood resident, are making the trip down to Indianapolis this weekend to cheer on their beloved Giants. For Rubach, this will be his fifth Super Bowl and his third with the Giants.

“I’m looking forward to the Giants beating the Patriots again and [quarterback] Eli [Manning] proving that he’s better than Tom Brady.”

A season ticket holder, Rubach is an old pro when it comes to tailgating, and he has a few tips.

“It’s essential to have great food,” said Rubach, who likes to theme his tailgates based on the teams playing. For example, if the Giants are playing the New Orleans Saints, they would serve up Cajun food. When the Giants played the San Francisco 49ers, they had Chinese food in honor of San Francisco’s Chinatown, the oldest in the country.

“They’re always different and no one gets bored,” he said. “And very good, loud music always helps the tailgate party become a party.”

Unfortunately, Rubach is uncertain if his group will be allowed to tailgate when they get to Lucas Oil Stadium, because there are restrictions on outside equipment. Still, he said, that won’t dampen their spirits as they cheer on their Giants.

““ Josh Lipowsky

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