“The highlight was a dish of Calamari Palance. The calamari which comes from the Mediterranean Sea and is served whole on a bed of herbs is soft in texture and “smoked” in flavor. The accompanying salad with its yoghurt dressing is refreshing - all in all, a celebration of perfection…” Yulia (“Juliet”) restaurant in Tel Aviv is in fact located in the west and not the east as is Shakespeare’s tragic character. However when it comes to quality of food – she is definitely the sun.
Shiri and I have much to discuss. A few days ago, I made her an offer one can’t refuse and she took some time to think it over. Later, she responded with a list of questions. We decided to meet and set the details straight. Yulia restaurant, with its convenient locations, ocean view, and terrific food, was the ideal location.
Yulia is the (little) sister restaurant of Boya and, like her sibling, she specializes in seafood. The d?cor is simple yet meticulous. The large windows surrounding the space meet the wooden deck of the port promenade. The deck stretches out into the sea, which was painted today in a deep indigo. We are greeted by Ilan Pinchas, the chef, who has been with Yulia since the grand opening just over a year ago. Ilan leads a very simple concept here: quality raw ingredients which are processed to the finest level possible. For example, “a fish fillet is served without a single bone,” says Ilan. “We bone the fish thoroughly with a pair of tweezers, unless the customer wishes to have a fish served whole. The entrecote steak is of the highest quality in the country, and it is fresh, not frozen. I’ll drive up to Netanya to bring over the right balsamic vinegar, for example, and no raw ingredient will lie around for more than two days here. I work to infuse this mentality. The way I see things, the dishes should not be too complex, but simple and based on choice ingredients.”
Yulia has a set menu, which leans towards the Mediterranean style, although Ilan is wary of generalizations. “I tend to stick to a particular Mediterranean style of dishes such as Chraime (spicy fish), rice and okra,” he says. “However, I don’t want to pigeonhole the restaurant because I believe that doing so destines the restaurant to be a place of which people grow wary. I would say that the ingredients are the most important thing.” Occasionally specials are served, based on the offerings of sea. Aside from the raw ingredients, the dishes are prepared entirely in the restaurant, from the salsas, focaccias, hummus and tahini, to each of the interesting side items. “People come here for a great experience and I try to give them just that,” says Ilan.
We start with a lemon-citrus margarita, light and playful, which goes – as we would find out – straight to one’s head. The letters on the menu danced in front of our eyes and Ilan came over to advise us. A hot focaccia arrives, accompanied by unique items such as a small basket of preserved lemons and grape-leaf chimichurri. This is followed by the first courses: a salad of beets and warm goat cheese, precise in flavor, in which the salty warm cheese combines well with the sweet beets and walnuts; the goat cheese also stars in the a dish of grilled eggplant, smoked and wonderful, accompanied by piquant fresh vegetable salsa; two thin cuts of sirloin on a bed of fresh and gentle string beans and joined by whole cloves of garlic; precisely-baked shrimp skewers in slightly-sweet teriyaki sauce which blends into their smoky taste; the highlight was a dish of Calamari Palance. The calamari which comes from the Mediterranean Sea and is served whole on a bed of herbs is soft in texture and “smoked” in flavor. The accompanying salad with its yoghurt dressing is refreshing - all in all, a celebration of perfection.
For my entr?e, I am served Frutos del Mar: Linguine in a piquant chipotle sauce – tomato cream with fish broth – and many many mussels, shrimp, and calamari. I feast on the plentiful seafood, savor the wonderful flavor which combines so well with the sauce, and slightly neglect the linguine, which I would normally pounce on. Shiri, on the other hand, is served a 270-gram beef fillet on a bed of asparagus, joined by baby leaves, baked potato, garlic confit, and a creamy pepper sauce. The meat is well-seasoned, prepared to perfection, highly tender, soft on the one hand and not too red on the other. Shiri takes a bite, chews with concentration, a slight w