New kid on the block

One cannot help but sing the praises of Nahalat Binyamin’s Aria.

Nahalat Binyamin’s Aria restaurant (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nahalat Binyamin’s Aria restaurant
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Aria is a new Tel Aviv restaurant that combines a cocktail bar with live DJ events and a contemporary urban chef bistro. It is located in a historic building that belonged to the family of Yoel Moshe Salomon. The house received a makeover before the opening of the restaurant.
Responsible for the restoration and interior design is Oren Heknin, one of the owners of the complex.
Aria is an intimate place, and its unadorned charm makes you feel right at home.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 the taster’s platters my dining companion and I were served.
We started with the panzanella salad (NIS 48) with colored tomatoes, artichoke and Sicilian anchovies. Together with the tasty homemade bread and dips, it was an ideal way to begin our meal.
This was followed by tortellini ragù (NIS 65) with white raisins and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The pasta was fresh and heavenly and cooked to al dente perfection.
Without question, our favorite starter was the sliced Japanese hamachi (NIS 65) with seaweed salad, glazed with sweet yuzu.
Hamachi, or yellowtail, a fish in the jack family, is very familiar and yet so rare. It is well known in its raw form as sushi, sashimi and tartare in restaurants. The presentation of the dish appealed to our sense of color. Each ingredient spoke for itself, enhanced by a light sprinkling of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
For mains, we were presented with the white grouper fillet (NIS 130). The combination of fish, boccacio leaves and soy butter formed a delicious, perfectly balanced combo. The fish was crisp on the outside, but the inside was absolutely perfect: not a drop overdone but not underdone, either. The grouper was so fresh that there was no hint of that fishy taste that fish can get.
From there we were expecting dessert, but to my surprise we were served porcini ravioli (NIS 78) with Jerusalem artichoke in mushrooms and Gloucester cheese broth. The ravioli melted in the mouth and was full of rich flavor. It was deliciously sweet and creamy, exactly as our knowledgeable and friendly waiter had described. It was my favorite dish by far.
But it was the dessert that deserves the main mention. We were advised to try the manjari chocolate cake (NIS 48) and the open lemon tart (NIS 42). Even though I had eaten far too much already, I strove valiantly to finish this rich dark chocolate cake creation, surrounded by tonka bean and coffee mousse, vanilla and honey whiskey ice cream.
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.

Not kosher
66 Nahalat Binyamin St., Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 529-6054