New house on the block

Casa Nova adds an original South American-Thai fusion to the Jaffa dining scene.

September 23, 2011 16:13
4 minute read.
Casa Nova restaurant

Casa Nova 521. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Anewcomer to the Jaffa restaurant scene, Casa Nova offers an interesting fusion – South American and Thai food.

When I first heard this, I was a little apprehensive but also excited because I knew that I liked both types of cuisine.

The restaurant is located in a charming Jaffa building with a curved stone roof that could be described as a cave. The old-world style building is contrasted by the modern design of the interior, which is filled with bright oranges, reds and yellows.

My roommate and I sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen, which gave us a chance to see all the action up close. We ordered a couple of cocktails from our genial waiter to get in the mood and worked our way through the extensive menu. It is one of those menus that need a lot of scanning because all the dishes have so many elements, and many of them I had never seen before.

For starters I ordered De Pescado (NIS 38), which consisted of the catch of the day (tuna), red onion, cilantro, roasted corn, lime and cream of chili. I asked for mine a little less spicy but it still had a great fresh taste, which didn’t surprise me, as I saw them cut all the vegetables and fish right in front of my eyes. The tuna was of excellent quality, and all the flavors worked well together.

My roommate went for the salmon tostada (NIS 36), which she found hard to cut into because it looked like a work of art. The layers of roasted tortilla, smoked salmon, sour cream, red onion and pickled jalapeno tasted just as good as it looked. Although the smoked salmon and sour cream could be considered very Jewish-American, the flavors used here had a distinct South American feel.

After the success of the first courses, I was very excited about the main dishes, and I wasn’t disappointed. I had a dish called Vatapa (NIS 74), which was roasted fish filet in a peanut, cashew, herbs, chili and coconut milk sauce. This is where the South American-Thai fusion really started to be felt. Every mouthful was slightly different, with some reminding me of great Thai food I have eaten, while others reminded me of food that I ate while traveling round South America.

Again, the fish was a very high standard, and the creaminess of the sauce was complemented by the crunchiness of the nuts. For a side dish I chose the roasted sweet potatoes, which were but tasty.

Moving away from the fish theme, my friend went for Lomito a lo pobre (NIS 98) – seared beef tenderloin topped with chimichuri butter, anise and a sunny-side up egg. She chose mashed potatoes as a side dish. For me, the anise flavor was far too strong and overpowered the whole dish. On the other hand, if you like that strong flavor, then this dish is for you. Aside from the strong anise taste, the meat was well cooked and the egg added something a little special.

After another cocktail each and all the tasty food, we only wanted something small for dessert. And we were in luck. We shared Brigadeiro (NIS 14), which are balls of toffee chocolate candy that hail from Brazil.

I am lucky enough to know all about this delicacy because of my Brazilian roommate; but for those who are not familiar with it, I must point that it is extremely sweet and rich. And so worth it.

Although we were full, we still found the room to order another small dessert called Suspiro (NIS 18.) The dulce de leche mousse topped with meringue was served in a shot glass and was the perfect end to a great meal.

Jaffa is full of great restaurants, and Casa Nova is a welcome new addition. It enjoys a prime location, with those who sit outside being able to enjoy a full, unspoiled sea view with Tel Aviv in the background. The combination of an old building and modern interior is very fitting for this place that uses established dishes and adds modern touches to create something unique.

With its reasonable prices, funky atmosphere and friendly service, I believe that Casa Nova will be become well established on the Jaffa dining scene.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Casa Nova Not kosher 48 Retsif Ha’aliya Hashniya Street, Jaffa Tel: (03) 541-3636 Open Monday to Saturday from 6 p.m. till the last person leaves

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