Nili Wine Bar: Excellent food in Zichron Yaakov

The menu is huge, which is helpful for the discerning diner or picky eaters.

 Pizza (photo credit: LINDA GRADSTEIN)
(photo credit: LINDA GRADSTEIN)

My sister-in-law Tova was visiting from the United States for the first time in several years. She told us how she once read a book about Sarah Aaronson and the Nili spy ring and had always wanted to visit Zichron Yaakov. My husband Cliff who has a tour guide license said he had heard the Aaronson house museum had been updated. The one time I tried to visit the museum it had been closed. So off we drove to Zichron.

The museum is indeed interesting and well worth a visit:

Now, of course, came the next big question: where will we eat? I remembered hearing about the Nili Wine House, which is right in the center of the pedestrian mall of Zichron. On further investigation, I saw that if you put a photo of yourself at the restaurant on Instagram, you get a free glass of wine. Now, I’m even more interested.

When we arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon, the joint was jumping. Every table on the outdoor porch was taken and we were seated inside. The restaurant feels like an old house in Zichron, giving a fun vibe to the dining experience.

The menu is huge, which is helpful for the discerning diner (a.k.a. that picky eater who drives everyone crazy). There is sushi, pasta, salads, fish and specials. We decided to let the staff order for us, which is always fun and gives them a chance to try different parts of the menu.

 Food at Nili Wine Bar. (credit: LINDA GRADSTEIN) Food at Nili Wine Bar. (credit: LINDA GRADSTEIN)

They first brought us three appetizers: eggplant carpaccio (NIS 38), a Caprese salad (NIS 64) and arancini, which is usually deep-fried risotto (NIS 45). The first two were excellent. The eggplant carpaccio was similar to eggplant Baladi in other restaurants and had a smoky, grilled flavor that went well with the raw tehina, silan, salt and olive oil. The vegetables in the Caprese salad were fresh, as was the baby mozzarella and I enjoyed the balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.

The Arancini disappointed

THE ONLY disappointment for me was the arancini that was fried mushroom risotto balls served on tomato gazpacho and topped with parmesan. The risotto ball was a little burned on the outside and was not served hot.

There is an extensive sushi menu but as we visited on Sunday, I didn’t think sushi would be offered as in Jerusalem there is no fresh fish on Sunday. But Nili Wine Bar had fresh fish and I enjoyed a nice sushi and avocado roll (NIS 32). The plate was decorated beautifully and the pickled ginger was especially good.

For main courses, we received the beet gnocchi (NIS 67) which was a beautiful chartreuse (I always wanted to be able to use that word) color and was homemade gnocchi stuffed with cheese, in a white wine, garlic and beet sauce with slices of goat cheese. It was a beautifully made dish.

We finished up with a Nili pizza (NIS 62), which had tomato sauce, mozzarella, pears, goat cheese and thinly sliced chili peppers. Obviously, the chef had not seen my Ashkenazi coloring or we happened to get a particularly spicy chili pepper because while I enjoyed the combination of flavors my mouth was really burning.

Of course, you are wondering what we had to drink with all this yummy food. My abstemious (another word I’ve always wanted to use) companions drank water but I reasoned that it was my duty to my readers to have a glass of wine with my lunch. There is a separate wine menu, with full bottles of wine and individual glasses at reasonable prices. There are five whites and five reds offered by the glass.

 Aubergine carpaccio. (credit: LINDA GRADSTEIN) Aubergine carpaccio. (credit: LINDA GRADSTEIN)

I had a very generous glass of Har Yatir Amsa (NIS 42). I thought that I got a larger glass because they knew I was writing a review but I saw that everyone received the same generous pour.

Next to us, two ladies shared a cannelloni and salad.

“This is the best food in Zichron and it’s always fresh,” Ira Binyamin told me. “I was here Friday and again today. Tell your readers that they should make reservations if they want to make sure to get a place.”

Nili Wine Bar

43 Hameyasdim Street (on the midrachov)

Phone: 04-6292899

Kashrut: Mehadrin

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.