Like a man who finds a button and then makes the perfect suit for it, so are the owners of Casa Nova. First they found an ancient building in Jaffa harbor, only then did they give it the perfect restaurant. If we have sea, they thought, we'll make it a fish and seafood menu. If the building resembles a cave that can't handle heavy frying, we'll give our dishes minimal treatment. And if this structure was once owned by the Spanish crown, we'll give our kitchen a Latin touch. The happy result is Casa Nova, which is titled Cevicheria & Latino bar. Chef Nir Dagan created a menu inspired by the novo Latin cuisine, which is in turn based on the South American cuisine, and then added some Oriental influences.
Of the 3 sitting areas in Casa Nova – the porch next to the shore, the restaurant's space or the kitchen bar, we chose the latter, where we could enjoy watching the chef and his staff as they were fixing different plates in front of us: quick mixture of fresh ingredients, esthetic plating and not much more.
Casa Nova offers a unique variety of fish dishes that demonstrates the difference between Ceviche (raw fish pickled in citrus fruit marinade), Tiradito (a more subtle version inspired by the Japanese cuisine), and Escabeche (in which the fish is fried in delicate flour coating before pickled).
We start off with two refreshing summer cocktails – Mojito based on rum-vanilla, and New Age which is made of white wine, mint and citrus fruit. By now, our starters were served to the table: De Pescado is a classic Ceviche made of sea fish with purple onion, coriander, lime and chili cream; some roasted corn grains made it even more interesting. A Taco Sashimi challenged the term fusion as it combined a base made of mini-tacos and pickled salmon toping together with lime, soy and a decoration of bean sprouts and wasabi. We also loved the Escabache, which is served on avocado cream and sour cream. Next to the fish we nibbled on fantastic scones made of corn and cheese and fried in chimichurri butter that gave them a yellow hue and criminal taste.
Encouraged by the starters, we continued with the fish line as we proceeded to our main courses, and ordered 2 very pleasing dishes: baked sea fruit enchilada with tomatoes and mozzarella in spicy tomato sauce; and Vatapa – slightly roasted sea fish portions lying in a rich sauce of peanuts, cashew nuts and coconut milk. Even the side dishes in Casa Nova are anything but traditional – rice and black beans, and a sweet-sour cream of corn and chili which combined well with the complicated taste of our main courses.
We loved the food, we had fun, and we finished off with 2 desserts of the Brazilian cuisine – Brigadeiro – addictive balls of toffee and chocolate; and caramelized cream and coconut pudding, both of which made us samba.