Until I ate at Mojo’s I had two rules about pizza: no pineapple and the more cheese the better. The first rule is still intact, but after the meat pizza at Mojo’s the second rule might be “the more meat the better.”
The idea of pizza with fake meat is nothing new, but most of what I’ve tasted until now doesn’t really have the taste or texture of meat. At Mojo’s, owner Tzvi Maller (one of the former owners of Crave) uses meat that he makes in-house, including lamb “ba-ken” which he spells that way because the Rabbanut decided that kosher restaurants can’t use the word “bacon” on their menus.
“I want to disrupt the whole concept of pizza,” Maller said with a bit of a mad scientist gleam in his eye. “If I can make some money on the side, that’s even better.”
“I want to disrupt the whole concept of pizza. If I can make some money on the side, that’s even better.”Tzvi Maller
Disrupting the very concept of pizza
I always prefer to order dishes in restaurants that I can’t make at home and I think it’s fair to say that I’m not sure I could make any of the dishes I ate at Mojo’s at home. We started with tasting portions of several appetizers, which means I can’t comment on portion size or VFM (Value for Money). I hate wasting food so I asked Eden (Tzvi’s daughter who runs the restaurant) for small-tasting portions that I shared with my favorite husband (at least he’s my favorite so far). The prices I cite are for a full portion.
We tried fried olives (NIS 42) which were panko crusted and had a basil mayo dip. I had never tried fried olives before and these were delicious. There was a Caesar salad (NIS 38) which along with the expected ingredients included olive dust, smoked sardines and anchovy vinaigrette.
We continued with arancini (NIS 36), which is a common appetizer in Italian restaurants and one of my favorites. What’s not to like about fried rice balls? But these went farther with Italian sausage and mushroom umami dust.
We also tried the spaetzle (NIS 69), a German dish that Maller describes as the ultimate comfort food, which I’ve never seen in a kosher restaurant before. There were homemade noodles with wild mushrooms, chicken confit, kale, a poultry reduction, lamb “ba-ken” bits and truffle oil. It had my husband and I dueling for the last bite.
If you want to splurge a little, go for the sticky lamb riblets in an Asian glaze (NIS 89). Maller warned me that they were fatty and they were, but they were really good, reminding me almost of spare ribs in non-kosher restaurants from my former life.
The only appetizer I didn’t enjoy was the beef jerky (NIS 38) in honey, soy and garlic. It was too chewy and didn’t have enough flavor.
Now it was time for the meat pizza. Honestly, I was a little hesitant about this, as the idea of meat pizza didn’t really appeal to me that much. But based on the appetizers, I knew I was in for a treat.
While the pizzas are sold as whole pies, Eden brought us each small slices of three different pizzas and here, my husband and I had a disagreement. My clear favorite was the pepperoni (NIS 78) with vegan mozzarella, pepperoni, marina sauce and oregano. It’s been a very long time since I ate non-kosher pizza, but I had a Proustian moment of being in a NY pizza shop more than 50 years ago.
My husband’s favorite was the Sausage (NIS 75) with spicy sausage, marina sauce, sweet-caramelized fennel, vegan cheese and basil. The interplay between the sausage and the fennel was delicious.
Both of us also enjoyed the Ba-ken JAM pizza (NIS 78) which had a house white sauce lamb ba-ken glazed onions, green apple, vegan feta, lamb ba-ken, arugula and red chili honey. About as faux-treif as you can get.
For dessert there was yet another surprise in store: a dish of lemon curd (NIS 48) that had Lemon olive oil cream, macerated balsamic strawberries and salted pistachio crumble.
With a stomach full of new flavors, I realized that Maller had definitely disrupted my pizza experience and had clearly achieved his goal.
Note: The restaurant is relatively small so reservations are recommended.
Mojo’sShlomzion Hamalka 1Hours: Sunday-Wednesday 12 p.m.-11 p.m.Thursday 12 p.m.-12 a.m.Friday 4 hours before ShabbatSaturday 1.5 hours after ShabbatTel: 03-561-9252Kashrut: Jerusalem Rabbanut Mehuderet
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.