tel aviv beach front.
(photo credit: )
Inspired by his travels in San Francisco, whose ports are characterized by numbered piers, Israeli entrepreneur Ben Maharovsky has embarked on a venture to raise the international standards of Tel Aviv's northern port: Pier 23. Pier 23 certainly adds a fresh seashore feel to the port, which is developingmore andmore into an outdoor, seaside restaurant mall.
Pier 23 bills itself as a "bar on the beach," but don't get confused. Instead of a well-stocked liquor bar, you'll find a clean white serving counter in front of a transparent kitchen. Pier 23's "bar" is simply a long table made of raw deck wood where diners can eat "gourmet fast food" while perching on bright orange stools. Next to this bar are a few round wooden tables for those who prefer not to sit cafeteria style.
"Everything on the port is very committal," explains Yaron Mizrahi, Pier 23's manager. "You need a hostess, server - there's no fast food that takes simple things and makes them 'wow.'"
Pier 23 is a huge contrast from its father restaurant, Mul Yam, ranked as one of the best in the world, and certainly one of Tel Aviv's most exclusive. Owned by Ben Maharavsky's father, Shalom, this seafood institution is probably the most "committal" on the port, and an entr e costs an average of NIS 200.
"All major restaurants in the world open a daughter restaurant nearby so you can bypass their exclusivity," says Maharovsky. As an example he cites Nobu New York, the chic Japanese restaurant co-owned by Robert De Niro that opened Nobu Next Door for a less expensive, less committal Nobu experience.
You couldn't tell Pier 23 is related to Mul Yam just by looking at it, but you can rest assured that the seafood comes from the same source. The fish, shrimp and calamari hail from the Maharovsky seafood importing and distribution company next door, making this corner on the port a small family seafood empire. So even if there's a slow night at Pier 23, the sea fare is fresh.
The international array of dishes includes crispy calamari (NIS 26); entrecote or chicken tortilla (NIS 24 & 22); shrimp on a stick (NIS 29); Belgian fries, and fish & chips made with cod fresh from Holland (NIS 36). Salads are available for those watching their diet or craving something a little lighter. Liquor prices are well below average, with margaritas going for NIS 23 and Red Bull and vodka going for NIS 28.
If you're not a big fan of seafood, it's still worth eating at Pier 23 just for the presentation. The branding of Pier 23 seems to be more invested than the size of the menu, which features 13 dishes. Food is served on surf-and-turf style round wicker trays, while fish & chips comes with wooden cutlery imported from Germany.
Finger foods come in ingenious, patent-pending containers invented by Maharovsky's father especially for Pier 23. Tentatively called "kangaroos," these cardboard boxes are designed with two pullouts for sauces and condiments. Even Maharovsky admits that if Pier 23 fails to take off as he hopes (he dreams of chains throughout Israel's major ports), he won't give up quickly, turning to international distribution and marketing of this fast food invention.
It's too the bad the place is not open late at night. It would make a great after-party sport for bar and nightclub goers. To add a little more night-time fun to the corner, Pier 23 has launched Cool Thursdays, featuring a DJ spinning chill-out music every Thursday through September.
Tel: (03) 546-9937
Hours: Sun-Thurs: 12:30 p.m. - 12-ish a.m.; Fri-Sat: 11 a.m. - 12-ish a.m.