Nostalgia in Netanya

Yorgos evokes the flavor of a genuine Greek taverna.

Dish at Yorgos restaurant in Kikar Ha’atsmaut in Netanya (photo credit: Courtesy)
Dish at Yorgos restaurant in Kikar Ha’atsmaut in Netanya
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you’re feeling nostalgic for that Greek holiday you took a few years ago, then you should hurry along to Yorgos in Kikar Ha’atsmaut in Netanya. The food and atmosphere evoke the feeling of an authentic Greek taverna, complete with nautical motifs, Greek background music and an unlimited amount of on-the-house ouzo which flows like water.
The kosher dairy eatery is run by young entrepreneur Lior Benhamou, who owns three restaurants in Netanya. This one is named for a Greek friend who sadly died before they could start a planned partnership together.
We began our meal with a selection of mixed hors d’oeuvres, all with a distinctive Greek flavor.
The bread that was served was the traditional Greek lagana, a flatbread not unlike focaccia, topped with herbs and coarse salt and flavored with garlic. It came on a board with dips of tomato and avocado on the side and really got the meal off to a promising start.
The appetizers came in separate small dishes and represented a bird’s eye view of traditional Greek foods. There was tsadsiki, made with yogurt and flavored with garlic, olive oil and lemon; aubergine salad, which was good without being at all oily; various kinds of dips made from spiced white cheese and feta; and a salad of green peppers which might have been a little too spicy for some tastes, although we enjoyed them. (NIS 69 for the mixed hors d’oeuvres.) For a main course, I chose spicy fish balls in tomato sauce served with chickpeas. I liked the idea of not having to worry about eating a whole fish with bones. The choice turned out to be an excellent one, as the fish balls, made from a mixture of merlosa and Nile perch, were very tasty.
The chickpeas made an unusual side dish, and the tomato sauce had just the right amount of chili pepper to make it interesting (NIS 69).
My companion’s choice was lavrak baked in the oven with puree of potatoes. An enormous oval serving dish arrived at the table, just about big enough to contain the fish and its accompaniments. It was crispy, hot and delicious, although the puree could have been a little warmer (NIS 129).
The dessert menu had some interesting offerings, and we chose two. The Santorini was an excellent apple crumble with warm sweet chunks of soft tart apple topped with a crumbly mixture which seemed to have hardly any fat in it. The accompanying vanilla ice cream was good and not overly sweet (NIS 42). The Corfu knaffe was a rich, buttery creation dripping in syrup. Very sweet and sinful but, on reflection, worth it (NIS 48).
For Greek food with an Israeli twist, Yorgos is the place to go.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Yorgos Kosher 12 Kikar Ha’atsmaut, Netanya Tel: (09) 862-8883; 053-6407-838 Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday night, sundown until 2 a.m.