The End of a Brief Era

Zoya Grill Bar in Netanya abandons its experiment with kashrut.

The Royal Grill contains pullet, mutton and lamb (photo credit: BUZZY GORDON)
The Royal Grill contains pullet, mutton and lamb
(photo credit: BUZZY GORDON)
Moty Strokovsy is a successful restaurateur whose two restaurants – Abrage in Jaffa, and Zoya Grill in Netanya – have both been reviewed in these pages, in fact, both more than once. Except when Zoya was last reviewed, it was kosher, now, however, it no longer is.
Little else, though, has changed – including, somewhat surprisingly, the menu. There is still no pork or seafood served, nor any dishes that noticeably contained dairy products. 
Zoya is conveniently located in a plaza shared with a Delek Gas station right on the coastal highway, in the Poleg section of Netanya. Inside, however, it actually looks more like a fine dining restaurant than your average gas station eatery, with dark wood furnishings, leather upholstered chairs, and a rear annex whose tables are covered in tablecloths.
There are no specialty cocktails, but there is a decent selection of beers, and a limited selection of Israeli wines (although there are some imported sparkling wines). There are very few wines available by the glass; but when one was not available during our visit, the restaurant opened a different one for us. 
Zoya’s extensive menu is contained in two leather-bound books, one in Hebrew and the other bilingual: English and Russian. Both are illustrated, and comprise no fewer than 15 sections each.
The first section lists a few items under Breakfast (NIS 24-32), which is served daily until 12 noon. Next come Hummus (six variations, NIS 26-40), Salads (as appetizers, NIS 12-24), Salads (NIS 32-55), Dishes in pita (NIS 19-75), Meat (NIS 55-150), Fish (NIS 80-90), Sides (NIS 16-20), Specialties in pita (NIS 22-45), Business lunches (served weekdays until 5 p.m., NIS 45-85), Specialties (served on a plate with a side dish, NIS 38-55), Stuffed and special dishes (NIS 9-60), Soup (one du jour, NIS 22), Kids (NIS 38) and Desserts (ask the waiter, as selections change daily). 
A meal at Zoya invariably starts with an assortment of mezze, small plates of Middle Eastern salads and pickles; an assortment of six is specially priced at only NIS 25 per person, with free refills when ordered with a main course. A dish of plain hummus is included.
Of these mazettim, we particularly enjoyed the zesty matbouha; the small, savory and crunchy falafel balls; the house hummus, with a high proportion of tehina; and a rich tapenade of sundried tomatoes.
We were then served two house specialties: artichoke hearts on a bed of cucumber with a touch of labaneh, and a whole eggplant cooked directly on fire. The former were al dente to the point of being underdone, while the latter was melt-in-your-mouth delectable. 
Considering the restaurant’s emphasis is on grilled meat, we were a little surprised to see this plug in the menu: “Zoya loves fish, fish love Zoya.” We were told that deliveries of fresh fish arrive daily, even on Saturdays, and that one of the catches of the day was tarrahoan, which was not even listed on the menu. Since it was new to both of us, we looked it up and discovered it was blue jack mackerel. Intrigued, we ordered it – and were quickly rewarded. The whole fish was beautifully presented, grilled to perfection, and absolutely delicious. Clearly, the sleeper of our experience.
Poring over the long list of meats, we noticed there are actually three different mixed grills, ranging in price from NIS 60-150. The top of the line is the Royal, featuring pullet, mutton shishlik, kebab and lamb chops, plus a choice of two side dishes. The Royal platter is more than enough for two people to share, even before getting to any carb-laden sides; our favorites here were the skewers of pargit (pullet) and the round kebabs, seasoned Arabic-style, with plenty of parsley, courtesy of the amiable chef and grillman Abu Ahmad.
The desserts recited by the waiter were the usual suspects (crême brulée, malabi), but before we could even say anything, a generous tray of watermelon slices appeared, surrounded by Bulgarian cheese sprinkled liberally with za’atar. Despite being already full, we could not resist polishing off this refreshing and not overly filling dessert.
The satisfying meal was nicely capped off with traditional Turkish coffee, laced with cardamom.

Zoya Grill
Not kosher
Delek Gas station on Highway 2, Poleg, Netanya
Phone: 09-886-2200
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.