New Kosher Italian Restaurant in TA

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New Kosher Italian Restaurant in TA

Postby Joel D Parker » Fri May 07, 2010 9:05 am

Hi,

Just got back from a great experience at Uno, at the corner of Weitzman and Sha'ul HaMelech.

Normally my wife and I avoid kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv, due to their tendency towards mediocracy and/or terrible quality for the price. This was a pleasant mix of avant guard Tel Avivi design in a cool location near the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, great service, moderate prices, and great dishes of fresh pasta. (We didn't try the pizza, but it looked pretty good, too.)

I am pretty sure the restaurant is Halavi Kosher (though I did not see the kosher sign), but it does not scream kosher at all. The message that we got was an attempt to create fresh good quality Italian food, though with an emphasis on the fresh and quality parts and room for experimentation in the Italian arena.

The tiramisu dessert was one of the best we've had in TA, and each pasta dish had distinctive ingredients that seemed all put together at the last minute, rather than some prepared dish waiting to be served for hours.

Would recommend a visit, and particularly for those who don't think kosher food can be great.

Joel
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Re: New Kosher Italian Restaurant in TA

Postby Daniel Rogov » Fri May 07, 2010 10:04 am

Joel, Hi...


My review of Uno appeared in HaAretz (English) on 15 April and can be seen at http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/fe ... t-1.284312 . As can be seen, your enthusiasm was greater than my own.

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Re: New Kosher Italian Restaurant in TA

Postby Joel D Parker » Sun May 09, 2010 7:25 am

Hey Daniel,

I must have missed that review, but I'm pretty glad I didn't read it before I went there myself. It seems that this could be a case where the critic has different objectives than the casual eater. We were out for a good time at an Israeli restaurant, not so much to dissect each dish and compare it to Italian-run and owned restaurants.

As I hinted, there is certainly some failure to replicate 'authentic' Italian food, such as one finds at other Tel Aviv restaurants like Il Pastaio. This is not necessary for a great dining experience, in my opinion. If the decor felt tacky, I suppose your general opinion of Tel Aviv would be ultra-tacky. Certainly, some restaurants manage to go beyond the general gaudiness of Tel Aviv, but they are the rare exception, not the rule.

The dishes we had were different than the ones you had, with the exception of the tiramisu, and foccacia. I think we have to agree to disagree here. The tiramisu at Amici, which you praised in a past review, was far too sweet for me and my company in addition to having a strange dry-bread texture, while at Uno, the marscipone was just sweet enough to be felt as a dessert, but not overwhelming for us (the same four people in both situations). Also, the alcohol was felt in the tiramisu at our table, which you wrote didn't exist, though perhaps the restaurant has changed the recipe since your review.

Also, I think that it should be noted to the credit of the restaurant that its prices are fair for what you get, even when compared to non-kosher restaurants of similar stature. For Israelis who value the whole experience of good service, good value, fun atmosphere and usage of fresh local ingredients, this restaurant will have much appeal.

Lastly, I would question (cautiously) your decision to drink Castel Grand Vin at a Chalavi kosher italian-esque restaurant. We drank glasses of the 2009 Recanati Rosé and felt it balanced with the food pretty well.

BTW, At least your review did not descend into the depths of snobbism as did the one written in Ma'ariv over the past weekend, which basically argued that kosher restaurants can feed whatever they want to shomrei kashrut because their customers don't know any better. With this, I heartily disagree.

Joel
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Re: New Kosher Italian Restaurant in TA

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun May 09, 2010 9:19 am

Joel, Hi...

As you will note, I did not out-and-out "kill" the restaurant in my review. Perhaps our differing reactions can best be chalked up to different strokes for different folks.

As to the issue of kosher restaurants being able to get away with a great deal, that alas was indeed true for many years and that largely because indeed many of the observant had no basis of comparison. Largely with the exception of "Jewish" restaurants, the vast majority of kosher restaurants served truly mediocre or worse imitations of French, Italian and other national or regional dishes. Even today, many so-called '"prestigious" kosher restaurants, especially those such as at hotels that have a captive audience, continue to rely on the use of inferior substitutes in order to keep dishes kosher.

The quality revolution in kosher restaurants started only about a decade ago and that both in Israel and in the USA with restaurants that decided to be entirely of fish and dairy offerings. From there, with the introduction of well trained and imaginative chefs, the revolution moved onto meat based restaurants at which creative and positive solutions were found that could keep the level of kosher meals as high as those of non-kosher.

If ten years ago someone had asked me to compose a list of truly fine kosher restaurants that list would have been quite short. Today, it is fully possible to fill an entire book with a listing of such establishments. Even better, more and more contine to open.

This revolution is due not only to chefs and restaurateurs but indeed, as the case with the kosher wine revolution to those who do keep kashrut and to the increasing realization that fine dining and fine wine can be an important part of a cultured life style that is not at all a contradiction to one's moral/religious beliefs and practices. There are indeed a growing number of kosher restaurants that are good enough that I recommend wholeheartedly and not only to those who keep kosher but because they are fine dining establishments. Ten years ago, even five, that would have been nearly impossible.

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