Uno, the kosher dairy restaurant on the second floor of the Amot Investment Tower on Weizman Street in Tel Aviv, near the Israeli Opera House, is a couple of notches more elegant than your run-of-the-mill bistro. The spacious, comfortable setting designed by architect Yaron Tal and the contemporary, cosmopolitan furnishings make this a fitting place to celebrate a romantic occasion like an anniversary. But it’s warm and welcoming enough to make the entire family feel at home, with a varied menu designed by chef Nitzan Raz (who made his name with the popular Sushi Samba chain) that includes strikingly enticing pasta and fish creations for the discerning palate and a wide range of pizza offerings for children in the group.
If you’re from the Jerusalem and regularly complain that there are no decent kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv, your search is over.
The restaurant is accessible from the street via a small staircase, or an elevator, and diners can either sit inside, where a gorgeous mirrored bar provides a majestic centerpiece, or on the roomy patio overlooking the bustling street below. The only nod to the cuisine in the décor – or in the music, which veered between new age and world – was the red and white checkered tablecloths on the tables.
Ido, our server, was as professional and pleasant as they come. He brought over delicious complimentary melon and lychee marguiritas, which went down like sweet water after a walk in the sultry Tel Aviv evening.
My wife and I chose two starters – the Pumpkin Agnolotti – served in a scooped-out half-circle pumpkin skin, filled with pumpkin and ovenbaked with ricotta, white wine and topped with passion fruit butter (NIS 42). The combination of tastes blended well, and we finished the dish down to the skin. The other starter was cappelletti porcini (mini raviolis filled with mushroom, porcini oil and Pecorino cheese), which was absolutely delicious (NIS 38). My only reservation, while acknowledging that starters shouldn’t be very filling by nature, was that the portions were quite small for the not-quite small price.
There was a wide array of entrees to choose from, including some exotic offerings such as fettucini verde, with rocket pasta sauce, arugula, peas, green bean, roasted peppers, goat feta cheese and walnuts; and the funghi padella – with porcini mushrooms, truffles, cherry comfit and pecorini.
We went a little more conservative, with my wife ordering the drum fish (NIS 80) – a perfectly grilled sea bass served with a hot vegetable salad that included thin zucchini slices, and a pasta side dish that resembled lasagna noodles on a skewer. Her only complaint was that the chef used a heavy hand in using sea salt to prepare the fish, requiring her to take sips of water between bites.
Ido proved his worth when I was about to order a pasta dish that featured tarragon, commenting that unless I really liked the taste of licorice, he would recommend another item. Not being a licorice lover, I switched my order to the salmon gnocci (NIS 64), and I’m glad I did.
I approached Meg Ryan levels of high maintenance (ref. When Harry Met Sally) when I asked Ido if it was possible to order the dish without the olives (which I consider on par with licorice), and he said it was no problem but that the results might not be as tasty.
There was no need to worry, as the dish – perfectly cooked potato gnocci swimming alongside generous chunks of flaky salmon in a rich tomato and curry sauce – didn’t lack for anything. My only regret was not having ordered some of the homemade foccacia Uno to soak up the extra sauce.
Since we weren’t overly stuffed, we decided to share two desserts, bypassing the trademark tiramisu – which we’ve been told by other diners was excellent – and ordering the chocolate cake and apple tart.
Ido explained that the tart had been temporarily removed from the menu in place of another apple dish that came close to apple cobbler. That sounded fine to me, and between the rich, fudgy chocolate and the tarty apple and crumbs, we were in dessert heaven.
Outside on the patio, where the temperature was finally cooling down, a big family gathering ordered about a dozen pizzas from the list of possibilities, such as the Balkan and the Sicilian (NIS 42 – 56). And by the looks of the pizzas being carried outside by the attentive staff, they had the potential of being in a league of their own. But I guess that’s for the next visit.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
2 Weizmann St.
(Amot Investment Tower)
Tel Aviv (03) 693-2005