The Wizard of Onza

Chef Shitrit has conjured up a marvelous menu at this Jaffa gem.

Chef Shitrit has conjured up a marvelous menu at this Jaffa gem. (photo credit: PR)
Chef Shitrit has conjured up a marvelous menu at this Jaffa gem.
(photo credit: PR)
Funky, eclectic and simply sweet, Onza, which opened just under a year ago, embraces everything there is to love about Shuk Hapishpishim (the Jaffa Flea Market). Chef Shlomi Yossi Shitrit’s menu is homey, nourishing, healthy and wholesome, consisting of delicious dishes such as beet cappellacci, fish carpaccio, chopped steak – and a selection of trendy cocktails.
Onza’s management is a marvel of efficiency. From the moment guests are greeted by the host and seated by knowledgeable waiters, each step is carefully supervised.
The dim lights, intimate design and music all contribute to the special atmosphere of the place.
The creation of cocktails can be straightforward or artistic, depending on the barman and how far he wants to take it. At Onza, experienced barman Dan Kreitzer puts on his own show behind the restaurant’s modern bar, where he shakes, stirs and blends drinks so brilliantly that it’s sometimes hard to focus on what you’re actually eating.
I didn’t know what to order, so he asked about a few of my favorite things and proceeded to make me something that was perfect. He did this for me and my dining partner for all our drinks, each one better than the last. We began with Kreitzer’s own take on a whiskey sour, as well as a passion fruit daiquiri. Both were delicious.
To try to absorb the alcohol in our stomachs, we dug into some hearty appetizers. We started with the egg by Kitchen Market (NIS 35) – the restaurant’s signature dish – which consisted of seared mushrooms, brioche, Parmesan foam and truffle oil. This visually stunning dish was just as beautiful on the palate as it was on the plate. The rich cream sauce paired with the earthy mushroom flavors was divine. I was delighted with this dish and would certainly order it again. Alongside it, we tore away at the tasty house bread.
This was followed by a red tuna tartare (NIS 56). The mixture of fresh onions, tuna and a hint of lime-soy sauce got my taste buds dancing.
Next up was the endive salad (NIS 48) with whipped blue cheese and pears. Everything in the salad was evenly mixed so that you could get a little bit of everything in every bite. The ingredients were fresh and of high quality. And the mustard vinaigrette was phenomenal.
Pleased with our first round, we welcomed the second, which was the polenta eryngii.(NIS 62). The polenta was so light and smooth that you would have had a hard time identifying it in a blind taste test; and the mushrooms and garden vegetables fit perfectly. It was a light yet hearty dish.
This was followed by shwarma Goliath (NIS 68), which consisted of lamb and chicken shwarma served on a flatbread with green salad, herb aioli and drizzled in yogurt. Living in Israel, we are spoiled for shwarma, so I had very high expectations. They were certainly met. The meat was made to perfection: moist, juicy, well seasoned, with every ingredient playing off of each other like a chamber ensemble. The shwarma looked like it was going to be messy to eat and I was worried I’d end up dripping it all over myself, but it was much easier to maneuver than it looked.
For dessert, we shared the creme brulee and the dark chocolate mousse. Both were beautiful presentations and tasted delicious.
On your next visit to Jaffa, trade your view of the sea for the flea market scenery. A visit to Onza is well worth it. A short stroll in the lively area, now completely cleaned up and filled with many new hangouts, cleared our heads before we wended our way home.