Chacho: When Libyan cuisine comes to Netanya - review

Apparently Chacho in Libyan means “grandfather.” It’s run by two brothers, Victor and Meron and they are the grandsons of the original founder.

 Chacho (photo credit: ALEX DEUTSCH)
(photo credit: ALEX DEUTSCH)

A sign over the bar at Chacho restaurant proudly proclaims “Founded in 1965.” Well, I suppose that 48 years of uninterrupted culinary activity is worth boasting about.

It means that ethnic Libyan cuisine is alive and well in Netanya.

There’s a small “Chacho” in the market but the one in the “Y” shopping precinct is open for business lunches and family dinners. Apparently Chacho in Libyan means “grandfather.” It’s run by two brothers, Victor and Meron and they are the grandsons of the original founder.

What's on the menu?

The place is large and decorated with red bricks in the dining area and black tiles in the kitchen. We found ourselves a table and while we were still scanning the menu, a selection of salads arrived at our table accompanied by freshly baked hallah.

There were 11 small bowls of different salads offering variations on a theme: how to take the most modest vegetables, like cabbage and squash, and turn them into something exotic.

 Chacho (credit: ALEX DEUTSCH) Chacho (credit: ALEX DEUTSCH)

For the most part, they succeeded. The cucumber, coleslaw, cabbage and carrot salads were all fairly standard, as were the tomato and pickled vegetables. But the hummus was thick and the chickpea texture stood out, the tehina was rich and creamy and the chopped eggplant was nice and garlicky. My favorite was the butternut squash salad, heavily flavored with cumin.

All the salads tasted both very fresh and very homemade. Definitely a propitious start to the meal.

We tasted classic Libyan mafrum and another two dishes of haricot beans with meat. They should have been piping hot but weren’t even lukewarm so we hardly touched them (NIS 62).

In any case, the star of the show is a selection of grilled meats, which we thoroughly enjoyed. For NIS 129, you get all the salads plus meat with a choice of rice, cuscus, potato or pasta. For a double portion, the price is NIS 249.

We had sausages, liver, steak, pargit and kebab. Although it was a single portion, it was more than enough. All the meats were delicious. The Merguez sausages were wonderfully spicy, the liver and the steak were perfectly done, and the kebab and the pargit were juicy.

The wines at Chacho all come from the Elyon winery, a boutique winery in the Galil. We drank Cabernet Sauvignon – rich, earthy and made in heaven – to go with the grilled meats.

During our meal, a large family arrived to celebrate their grandfather’s birthday. Being a nosy journalist, I had to ask one of the daughters if they were from Libya. “No” she replied, “from Beersheva.”

The birthday boy was from India and celebrating his 83rd birthday.

We asked if there were any Libyan desserts but they only had standard Western ones so we declined and ended our meal with two mint teas.

For an inexpensive taste of the exotic, I highly recommend Chacho.

ChachoGiborei Yisrael 17, Netanya.Telephone: 077-712-3124Open: Sunday–Thursday 11 a.m.–11 p.m.Friday 8 a.m.– 4 p.m.Shabbat – closed.Kashrut – Netanya Rabbinate.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.