Raise a glass to Raisa

Dining is warm and wonderful at this Jaffa gem

Food served at Raisa restaurant in Jaffa (photo credit: Courtesy)
Food served at Raisa restaurant in Jaffa
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Situated in the heart of the Jaffa Flea Market (Shuk Hapishpishim), Raisa is the kind of restaurant that everyone wants in their neighborhood. Chef Uri Levy combines the finest in locally sourced ingredients for a gastronomic sensation that, together with a stylish, relaxed atmosphere, makes a visit there an appealing dining experience.
Upon entering, one is immediately struck by the warm, welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant. There is a large bar in the center – that is packed on weekend nights – and seating areas inside and on the sidewalk.
Sitting outside, my dining companion and I were immediately served delicious cocktails, setting the tone for an evening of fine food.
We began with the lamb cigars (NIS 38). Served with tehina, the cigars were crisp and crunchy on the outside, while the meat inside was juicy and tender. This was comfort food at its best.
Next up was the roasted cauliflower with black tehina (NIS 44). Roasted perfectly, the cauliflower was buttery in tenderness, and the florets were nicely browned and had a bit of crispiness.
This was followed by tuna tartare served with eggplant and herbs on thin slices of pita (NIS 56). The dish was very nicely flavored, yet subtle enough to let the fish speak for itself.
We were then presented with fish carpaccio with watermelon, mint, cilantro, shallots and chili (NIS 56).
The fish was so fresh that it melted in the mouth, and the chili added a snappy textural kick, which made a nice contrast to the sweet watermelon.
After a bit of a breather and two more cocktails, it was on to the main dishes. First up was the lamb and chicken shwarma served on a flatbread with tehina, tomatoes and chili (NIS 68). The meat was cooked to perfection, moist, juicy, well seasoned, with every ingredient playing off each other like a chamber ensemble. It looked like the shwarma was going to be difficult to eat and I was worried I’d end up dripping it all over myself, but it was much easier to eat than it looked.
This was followed by a Middle Eastern classic, arayes: grilled pita stuffed with rich, seasoned minced lamb (NIS 58). Surrounded by creamy tehina, it was delicious and surprisingly not greasy (unlike how minced lamb often tends to be).
Last, we were presented with a grilled tuna fillet on a bed of artichoke, olives, capers, mangold tomatoes in a crab sauce. The tuna was crisp on the outside, but the inside was absolutely perfect: not a bit overdone nor underdone. As I cut into it, the fish fell apart on the knife and slowly melted on the tongue.
For dessert, we shared the homemade cheesecake (NIS 36).
The consistency and texture were on point, and I consider myself to be a bit of a cheesecake snob.
Overall, it was a delicious dinner.
Everything we had was fresh, flavorful and prepared with just the right amount of ingredients.
Service was exceptional. The wait staff were constantly attentive to filling our water glasses, and when a dish was finished, the plate was whisked off the table. A wonderful place for an intimate date or a large, lively group.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Not kosher
8 Rabbi Yohanan St., Jaffa
Tel: 052-449-9188