Restaurant Review: A joy forever

Already talented chefs recently given master class in how to create the perfect pizza by renowned chef who is an award winning TV star.

Nova Joya pizza (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nova Joya pizza
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The food at Italian-style restaurant Nova Joya has always been good, attracting the discerning business customers in the Ramat Hahayal area, but it is now preparing to get a whole lot better.
The already talented chefs were recently given a master class in how to create the perfect pizza by Antonino Esposito, a renowned chef from southern Italy who is a pizza expert and award winning TV star.
Esposito helped launch a new dinner menu that includes a wide range of real Neapolitan-style pizza, different types of focaccia, calzone and Italian pastries, all home-baked and handcrafted.
I was lucky enough to see Esposito in action while he was passing on his expertise to the staff at this lively restaurant.
We sat on the bar and were able to see him load each carefully crafted pizza into the large stonebake oven, which takes up a considerable part of the bar area. The young and friendly staff were very attentive and took care of our drinks orders straight away.
We started off with a selection of bruscetta topped with various freshtasting toppings. I enjoyed the anchovies and red pepper combination (NIS 34), which was served with rocket and capers. The bread had the perfect level of crispiness due to the fact that it had been baked in the special oven. The combination of flavors really worked well together, and the saltiness of the anchovies contrasted well with the sweetness of the peppers.
Next we tried one of Esposito’s specialties – bocconcini baked bread (NIS 32) with a variety of fillings. These small round bread creations are made out of the same dough as pizza but are rolled in a different way with the topping going in the middle instead of on top. My favorite flavor was the artichoke, which had a slight smokiness but a subtle hint of cheese to complement it. The mushroom offering was also very tasty, with its strong flavors and great texture.
While all these baked goods have a tendency to fill you up very quickly, I was very careful not to get too overexcited because I wanted to save room for the star of the show, the pizza.
I like pizzas that have a thin base, and my experience in Israel is that these pizzas can be very crisp and dry. However, when I saw the first pizza that Esposito pulled out of the oven, I knew I would be in for a treat. The Buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomato pizza (NIS 54) had one of the softest bases I have ever tried. The rich tomato sauce kept the dough moist, while the simple combination of the cheese and cherry tomatoes just worked.
The next pizza we tried was just as good. This creation included cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and reduced balsamic vinegar (NIS 54). The flavors this time were much stronger and well defined, giving a rich allround pizza.
We didn’t have room for dessert, so we just went straight for coffee, which also had a distinct Italian taste to it.
Although Esposito has now left Israel and is back in Italy working his pizza magic, the skills he passed on to the staff at Nova Joya will hopefully stay with them for a long time. The reasonable prices, along with a modern, welcoming atmosphere, make Nova Joya a great place to go for a business lunch with clients or a more romantic meal for two in the evening.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Nova Joya
Not kosher
4 Habarzel Street, Ramat Hahayal,
Tel Aviv
Open Sunday to Thursday from noon to midnight. Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to midnight.