Top 5: Sister-acts in Tel Aviv

The lovely ladies of this list run some of the best restaurants in TA, and girl-power is always their key ingredient.

Nola (photo credit: Karen Biton Cohen)
(photo credit: Karen Biton Cohen)
Behind every good dish served in Tel Aviv there’s a strong female chef or owner. Well, not every dish, but these five lovely ladies mentioned in this list demonstrate the power of initiative and innovation in the culinary business.
From southern American baking to handmade pasta secrets from the heart of Italy, girl power knows how to do it right. Check out these best restaurants featuring female owners and chefs to know what to order across the spectrum of good eats.
NOLA American Bakery
NOLA should count for two because of the strong female-duo running the all-American bakery/café that specializes in southern home cooking.  From New Orleans to New York, NOLA represents women with a passion for baking and home cooking.
Even though NOLA is one of the newer establishments in Tel Aviv, Talya Rasner, NOLA’s owner, has inherited a reputation in the city for southern-style family recipes.  A bakery was born in her mind and grew into a cafe, feeding hungry Americans and Israelis alike who crave homemade biscuits or blueberry muffins.  The decor and attitude inside is relaxed and welcoming, Talya in inviting you to her grandmother’s home for eggs and bacon with a mini pumpkin cheesecake or cupcake at the end.
Recommended dish: The Blackstone Biscuit is one of the most popular dishes - for good reason. An open-faced, warm buttermilk biscuit houses savory bacon, two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, served with a green salad with tomatoes and cabbage on the side.Female power: Everything is made in-house, and many of the recipes are connected to women in Talya’s life. The peanut butter pie is based on a recipe from a New Orleans cafe her mom loves and the pecan pie is based on a recipe from one of her grandparents’ favorite date spots.  Harriet Sternstein, NOLA’s head baker and the second ingredient of the female-duo, brings baking wisdom from all over the world.  She was born in New York, went to culinary school in Seattle and lived in Paris for 20 years before moving to Israel.
197 Dizengoff(03) 523-0527Sunday -Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.Saturday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.Cuisine: American bakery, restaurant/cafe, coffee shop (Not kosher)
Cucina Tamar
If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic night with good food and good wine, mark your calendar for Cucina Tamar.  Whether your appetite speaks for pasta or meat, you’ll find something from the authentic, country-style Italian menu. From fresh bread to tortellini pieced together by hand, everything is made in-house in the kitchen that openly overlooks the dining area. Owner and head chef, Tamar Cohen-Tzedek, brings her passion for Italian food and cooking to every dish, taking care to add just the right amount of truffle oil, parmesan cheese, artichokes or mushrooms to each new recipe.
Recommended dish: Tamar’s Parmigiano Budino is a classic dish that’s too good to pass up. Based on the idea of a chocolate soufflé, parmesan, eggs, cream, butter, flour and truffles are baked in the oven then topped with mushrooms, shallots and truffle oil. The mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil melt in your mouth like a creamy dessert.Female power: Tamar always loved cooking, but never studied it professionally. She went to veterinary school in Italy and discovered the culinary culture of the Italian countryside. She stayed in Italy five years after her studies ended, learning every detail of authentic Italian cooking.  She then returned to Tel Aviv, where she eventually opened Cucina Tamar to share her talent and passion with everyone.
10 Ha-tzefira057-944-3934Sunday -Thursday 6 p.m. -last customer Friday 5 p.m. -last customerSaturday1 p.m. -last customerCuisine: Italian, Wine bar(Not kosher)
JozveLoz is the romance, poetry and art of female-inspired cuisine. Started by Orit Revivo and Alma Fogiel, the small kitchen and dimly lit renovated accountant’s office represent a soulful combination of restaurant, home kitchen and bohemian refuge. 
The menu changes every few days, and the chef changes every couple years, so the concept of JozveLoz is always fluid and changing. However, Orit and Alma retain the theme of hosting their customers rather than serving. From the open views of fire from the kitchen, to the staff dancing from one side to the other, to the Israeli art inhabiting every open wall, the diner becomes the audience.
Recommended dish: The menu changes about every three days, but if you try the soup, you’ll want to order more to take home.
Female power: Orit and Alma met in Jerusalem in 1998 and had always yearned to open a restaurant. Their dream came true three years ago when they opened a soup restaurant in Jerusalem. After JozveLoz opened, their dream is still alive and growing. JozveLoz’s name came from Orit’s mom, who used the Arabic expression to describe the two as peas in a pod, or literally nut and almond from the translation. Alma says food is a story from home that is told with your mother.
It’s a language that expresses all of your senses.
51 Yehuda Halevi(03) 560-6385Sunday – Friday, noon-last customer (kitchen closes at 1 a.m.)Cuisine: Menu changes daily(Not kosher)Forty-Four
The first thing you’ll notice about Forty-Four is the kitchen, which is visible from the street through a huge window. You’ll see the staff tossing up Vietnamese and Thai dishes next to the ice cream maker, but if that doesn’t entice you enough, keep in mind the garden in the back with a striking mulberry tree.
Owner and chef, Osnat Hoffman, was taken by the garden and tree, which she first encountered amid piles of construction ruins.  After renovating the garden as well as the interior, she created a tasty escape from the city that was influenced by her travels to Europe and East Asia.
Recommended dish:  Half of the menu changes almost daily, but Osnat was one of the first and most influential chefs to bring pho soup to Tel Aviv, which is served with sliced chili peppers and a lemon wedge on the side.
Female power:Osnat didn’t grow up knowing she would be a chef, but she always loved food, whether that involved eating it or making it.  After the army, she was trying to find her way in the world when a friend suggested she work in a kitchen because she loved to cook. 
People would say her food was addictive.  She studied at the French Culinary Institute in New York before traveling to Vietnam and Thailand and was a chef at JozveLoz for five years before opening her own restaurant.
29 Nahalat Binyamin(03) 566-4087Monday -Thursday6 p.m. -last customer; Friday lunchCuisine: Vietnamese, Thai, French, Italian, menu changes daily(Not Kosher)Mezze
Although Mezze is owned and operated by husband and wife duo Gal and Efrat Barzilay, a large part of the vision and execution of the restaurant can be credited to Efrat. Her struggle with celiac disease inspired the motivation to open a restaurant where any vegetarian, vegan or person with dietary restrictions can comfortably enjoy an elevated and mouth-watering dining experience. Her ability to manage a kitchen and front of the house make Mezze a warm and inviting space. Doubled with the excellent and unique dishes, Mezze is one of the most welcoming staples of Tel Aviv. Recommended Dish: The mushroom, cashew and walnut pate is a full flavored dish mimicking a traditional Jewish chopped liver. Just like the original, this dish is packed with robust flavor and texture with a myriad of deep flavors. Female Power: If it isn’t enough to run a beautiful and successful restaurant, Efrat is also a mother to two children under the age of six. Although it’s a substantial amount of work, Efrat balances motherhood and business effortlessly and eloquently providing an inspiration for all women who aspire to do it all.
Ahad Ha’am 51A Sunday-Thursday 6 p.m.-midnightFriday: 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian, Tapas(Not kosher)