(photo credit: PR)
Aria is an intimate place, and its unadorned charm makes you feel right at home. It is located in a historic Tel Aviv building that belonged to the family of Yoel Moshe Salomon.
The super-friendly wait staff helps make everyone feel comfortable.
Aria’s menu is a culinary melting pot, and the food on offer is simple yet luxurious and indulgent. Chef Guy Gamzu is the mastermind of the seasonal winter menu. His knowledge of food was apparent in a new tasting menu aptly titled “Taste of Mind” that my dining companion and I were served (NIS 128 per person and runs Saturday through Wednesday).
We began our culinary journey with a creamy Jerusalem artichoke soup. The soup was surprisingly light in texture and strong in flavor, and together with the tasty homemade bread and dips, it was an ideal way to begin our meal.
Next up were grape leaves (served warm) stuffed with rice and ground lamb served on a bed of sheep yogurt. I don’t usually like stuffed vine leaves, but these were outstanding! Tender and flavorful, the spices, sauce and lamb meshed perfectly.
This was followed by scallops with black risotto. The scallops were seared to perfection and nice and tender inside. The risotto was absolutely fantastic and was one of the highlights of our meal.
We were then presented with roasted artichoke, as well as an endive/beet salad. Sprinkled with Parmesan on a bed of chestnut cream, the artichoke was tender, flavorful and melted right in my mouth! I wiped my plate clean.
Definitely will order that again next time I go.
The salad was a light and refreshing intermission: colorful beets, crunchy endive, perfectly understated (not overwhelming) dressing. I‘m a huge fan of beets, so this was calling out to me.
For mains we were presented with a sea bream fillet, served with assorted tomatoes, Kalamata olives and lime. The dish was generous and fresh. The fish was seasoned beautifully and grilled to perfection. The crunchy skin was an extra plus.
This was followed by tortellini ragù. The pasta was fresh and heavenly and cooked to al dente perfection. It was deliciously sweet and creamy, exactly as our knowledgeable waiter had described.
Last, we tried thin slices of onglet steak (also known as hanger steak).
Hanger steak can deliver a distinct and chewy bark that contrasts a juicy and soft center, and that is exactly what Aria achieved with this dish. The steak was accentuated with a rich red wine sauce, as well as porcini mushrooms. The Jerusalem artichoke cream was smooth, spreadable and not too harsh and did the already amazing steak even more justice After a bit of a breather, it was on to dessert. It consisted of a chocolate “nemesis” cake and vanilla mascarpone with almond crumble and meringue kisses with confit berries. While the cake was super rich and decadent, the mascarpone was light and creamy.
It was a nice counter to all the chocolate in the cake.
With the type and quality of food served at Aria, the place could easily be one of those pretentious restaurants where nobody speaks above a whisper. But Aria makes you feel comfortable, while still serving an upscale crowd. Topping off the meal with a shot of espresso, my dining companion and I agreed that we would be back because one visit was just not enough.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
66 Nahalat Binyamin St., Tel Aviv