Matzo Ball Mayhem: Scott's Generations vs. Chompie's

Eric Schaefer
Chompie's on the left, Scott's on the right.

Background: With two little kids in the house, I never fail to spend a solid portion of the winter fighting a cold. In addition to being on a first-name basis with my pharmacist, I'm a big fan of matzo ball soup as a cure for anything that ails you. A Jewish culinary tradition of eastern European origin, matzo ball soup (or "kneydls" in Yiddish) may be clinically unproven as a cure, but I find it does the trick every time.

For me, a satisfying bowl of matzo ball soup is about balance -- the broth should have some heft and the matzo balls should be uniformly fluffy. "Sinkers" versus "Floaters" are a matter of personal preference but heavy, gummy matzo balls are usually perceived as kitchen failures, resulting in a lifetime of shame and Jewish guilt for the cook.

In this corner: Scott's Generations

The Setup: Located near 7th Street and Missouri just a few feet from Karsh's Bakery (thus giving it instant Jewish street-cred), Scott's has been around since the late 1980s. It definitely has an old-school Jewish deli vibe, replete with 70's vintage bar mitzvah photos on the wall. The servers are wrinkled, sassy and they know their Jewish food.

The Good: This is a hearty bowl of soup. Don't be turned off by the oil slick on top; that's the result of "shmaltz" and it's precisely why this is such a good bowl of soup. It's not "health food;" it's food that will make you healthy. So embrace the rendered chicken fat that goes into the broth, and enjoy the nice balance of soft carrots, celery and herbs. This soup is heavy on flavor and I choose to believe that, because of that, it's packed full of whatever mythical healing benefits that matzo soup allegedly possesses. The matzo ball itself was small-ish, but fluffy and obviously hand-made. It was a tad denser in the center. Scott's reminded me of my mom's soup and was well worth the drive from Scottsdale despite several other options that are geographically more desirable.

The Bad: I ordered the "small" soup and was left wanting more. People looking for a lighter broth will be disappointed, and the matzo ball itself was slightly undercooked in the middle.

The Price: $4.25 for a small bowl, $5.95 for a large bowl. (get the large!)

Location Info

Scott's Generations

5555 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Chompie's Deli Restaurant, Bagels, Bakery & Catering

4550 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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While I've always loved Scott's, the matzoh ball soup winner is the new Abe's Delicattessen in Scottsdale.  Chompie's food and bagels are just horrible and their service is ghastly.  Chompie's has grown too big.  When they had their original restaurant on 32nd Street and Greenway, it had a "haimishe" feel to it...a down-homey feel, and the food seemed homemade..  Since they decided to move to Paradise Valley Mall, not only have the prices gone up, but the quality has gone down.  It is very obvious that they buy their corned beef and pastrami elsewhere, instead of making it in-house.  Have you tried Abe's bagels?  They're smart enough to have them parboiled in Brooklyn and completed in Arizona.  Have you tried Abe's pastrami?  He's smart enough to have it made in Michigan (a little bit of a disappointment here that it's not made in New York or in-house), but the pastrami TASTES like it's made in New York.  I've had their unbelievably delicous blintzes, potato pancakes and even vegetarian burger!  So, Abe's would be rated first, Scott's second, Goldman's third and, unfortunately, Chompie's fourth!


I find it interesting that the Yiddish word 'Kneydl' or 'Knaidle' ( you say potato, I say potahto) is derived from the German word for dumpling 'knodel' which is also the same root of the French 'quenelle'.

n.b. plural, should you want more than one, is 'knaidlach'


@BRONXGIRL10 - Thanks for your comments! I've actually tried the soup at Abe's and was woefully disappointed.  Over salted and bizarre. I've heard the same comment from many people that have also tried it.  It bordered on inedible, in my opinion. Of course I tried the kreplach (not the matzo ball) so maybe that's the difference.  I do agree that their pastrami and corned beef is excellent, however.  You mention latkes as well; I reviewed those for New Times (in a "throw down vs. Goldman's) in this article:  As much as I want to love Abe's since they're the new kids on the block, my experiences there have made it tough to love.  Chompie's isn't what it used to be in the "old days" and I stopped going altogether for a while, but I have noticed an improvement in the last 18 months.  And I've never been disappointed at Goldman's.  In fact, the only reason that I didn't include them in this story is because I just included them in the story about latkes.  The bottom line is that deli food is often judged by what one grew up with, and everyone's personal preferences are difference.  This article, as with everything that I write, is simply one man's opinion and your mileage may vary!


@BRONXGIRL10 Disagree completely. Have been completely unimpressed by Abe's, but sounds like you are really tied in with the ownership. I really really wanted to like the new kid on the block but have been totally disappointed. I didn't know that Abe's bagels we made off site and shipped here frozen but that explains a lot. I definitely like Chompies at Shea/101 better than PV Mall-service at PV Mall isn't great but service at 101/Shea is old school. I'd put Goldmans's ahead of Abes. Best bagels in my opinion are at JJ's Deli on Scottsdale at Pinnacle Peak along with best k'nishes in town. For a decadent treat try the k'nish sandwich with a k'nish cut in half and the top and bottom of the k'nish as the bread. Yummmmmmmmm!!!!!

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