Celebrating his restaurant’s first anniversary, chef Guy Gamzu believes that every component of his restaurant, from the bartender who mixes the intricate cocktails to the waiters who serve his food, should be in harmony. Opened one year ago, the restaurant has won the hearts of many locals, as well as food critics, who named it one of the best new places on trendy Nahalat Binyamin Street.
Aria is a delightful eatery that soars to high notes and has managed to find its own niche in the extremely competitive world of restaurants.
Chef and owner Gamzu’s rich culinary background influences his impeccable cooking. His mother’s family moved from Morocco to France to Egypt and then to Israel, gradually gathering recipes and traditions from each country into what became the family’s own cuisine. His father was from Iran, and his culinary preferences also influenced the family’s palate and added more recipes and traditions. Gamzu says he had always been drawn to the kitchen and worked in restaurants since he was 15, dreaming of opening his own place one day.
Aria is the realization of that dream. Designed by friend and partner Oren Heckney in rich dark grays and blacks with light gray bricks and white walls, the restaurant is a delight to sit in. The tan and gold accents gleam in the dimly lit rooms, lending a soft, romantic ambience. The building was originally the house of Yona Solomon, creator of one of the first moshavot, but it was abandoned for more than 20 years.
The bar on the first floor and the restaurant upstairs attract young Tel Avivians looking for a night filled with a variety of musical entertainment and the highest quality food.
Gamzu’s goal is to upgrade classic food into fine cuisine. Using only the best ingredients, he transforms the simple traditional recipes he grew up with into contemporary gourmet versions of their cultural counterparts. For example, the sirloin and charred vegetables on tehina I sampled was an old Arab recipe spiced up with a few modern changes. The tehina, usually made with water, was made with yogurt to create a richer, more satisfying taste. And the vegetables were cooked with Gamzu’s unique blend of spices that he painstakingly mixed to perfection.
Gamzu takes the time to gather only the best ingredients from all over the country, which is one reason his food tastes so delightful. He also changes the menu according to the seasons to ensure that everything is fresh and natural.
The bar is set up attractively. There is a display wall of drinks and cocktails, along with classic bar beverages, lining one side of a cozy room with a small stage in the center for performances. Music ranges from live instrumentals to DJs and other types of productions.
Aria opens its doors in the late evening. Gamzu explains that this is to test theories and ensure that he knows everything about his clients and what they look for, about the business in general and the competitive culinary scene in Tel Aviv specifically, and anything else involved in running a successful eatery and bar. Many celebrities have already passed through his doors, and special events are hosted there two or three times a week.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
66 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 529-6054