When I invited my sister to Joya at the Cinematheque, she said she had just recently had Italian. I'm guessing she didn't know Joya was the best Italian in town.
Joya is and for a very long time has been one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Chef Yuval Fechler, who until recently worked in Yonatan Roshfeld's famous restaurants (Tapas Ehad Haam and Herbert Samuel) is a new addition. Indeed, as soon as we walked into the beautiful, flowery restaurant, we almost couldn't recognize the menu that was seriously reduced. Many of the entries are different now, and reflect Fechlerl's educational trips to Italy. The new menu is tailor made for diners looking for a culinary sophistication and value for money.
We started with some drinks. I had the Gamla Sauvignon Blanc that was fruity and tasty. My sister, who finally agreed to come, had the Aperol Spritz cocktail that included Campari, prosecco, soda and a slice of orange – light and refreshing. For starters we had the Joya focaccia with tomato salsa and olives. It worked out well with my eggplant that was served with tahini-pesto, yogurt, pistachios, chili and parsley – seriously one of the best I have ever had. My sister, on the other hand, didn't even notice my eggplant, as she was completely immersed in her mozzarella-strawberry salad. It was rich and colorful, consisting fine mozzarella, strawberries, pecans, pomegranate, arugula, onions and chili. A little bit of sting, some spiciness, sweetness, bitterness – a beautiful mixture.
So, should we get something to eat? She asked, smiling. We decided to share pasta and a pizza. As the waitress recommended, we got the carbonara pasta with goose breast, asparagus and parmesan. It was so soft it melted in my mouth, but its rich sauce left no sign of heaviness.
We continued with Pizza Calabria – tomato sauce, mozzarella, chili, olives, oregano and parmesan, and some salami. A wooden taboon oven produced a thin crispy base with beautiful spicy toppings that we absolutely enjoyed.
The portions served at Joya are quite generous, so I can't say that by the time we got to have the salmon fillet we were hungry, but we had to have it. It was too baked in a taboon oven, before it was served on a bed of couscous with lemon, white wine, chili, oranges, olives, cranberries and pistachios. We were so happy to discover this beautiful gourmet dish.
We couldn't leave without having dessert. The crème brulee seemed innocent enough, until a baileys liqueur surprise was revealed. But the true masterpiece was the tiramisu bianco, which is really an illustration of the new wave at Joya: a traditional Italian dish with a twist of lemon zest, strawberries, and some gin vodka. Every spoon was a spoonful of beautiful tastes.
Two very happy sisters left Joya that evening.