Feeling at Home at Dallal

Dallal
http://dallalcoil.rest-e.co.il/
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Mediterranean, Bistro, Bar-restaurant
Not Kosher
10 Shabazi
057-943-9499
Sunday – Saturday (9:00 – 12:30)

Dallal is hands down the best restaurant experience we’ve had in Tel Aviv thus far.  Not only was the food extraordinary, but the restaurant was beautiful and the service was fantastic.

When you walk into Dallal, it’s as if you’re walking into someone’s home.  Perhaps it’s because the restaurant was constructed on the ruins of three houses.  The result is a magical restaurant in the midst of Neve Tzedek, a Tel Aviv neighborhood with narrow cobblestone streets and a charm that you can’t deny.

The entrance to the restaurant

As you enter Dallal, you walk through a front patio with white wrought iron furniture that evokes a friendly yet elegant atmosphere.  The staff welcomes you and leads you to a table where you feel like you’re at a private dinner party in a garden. The restaurant is large and spacious, but still feels intimate because there are several rooms.

One of several seating areas in the restaurant

After a long day exploring various parts of Tel Aviv, we were thankful for the peaceful and relaxing environment Dallal provided.  Our waiter, who originally hailed from South Africa, was incredibly friendly and helpful.  The music in the restaurant wasn’t too loud, the lighting wasn’t too dim, and the space wasn’t too crowded. Beyond this, we were thankful that the music that was playing was Israeli rather than American—Doug’s parents had previously noted the incredible frequency with which American oldies played on the radio and in restaurants.

One of several seating areas in the restaurant

From our first taste of the bread, we knew that Dallal’s food would match its atmosphere in excellence.  It was perfectly fluffy, with a crunchy crust but with cloudy soft dough on the inside.  What really set it apart, though, was the sea salt that topped the bread.  It made the light but hearty bread truly addictive.

Bread

We followed the delicious bread with an appetizer of roasted artichokes with tomato vinaigrette and chimichurri.  It was absolutely divine.  The chunks of soft tomato were flavorful and delicious.  It tasted amazing with the subtle flavor of the artichoke and the sharp flavor of the cheese.  While we ordered the appetizer to split between three, I had to restrain myself from eating it all.

Roasted artichoke with tomato vinaigrette and chimichurri

Luckily, my pea risotto dish with diced mushrooms, micro peas, and parmesan, hit the same completely-satisfied-with-delicious-food spot.  The risotto was creamy and had a hearty, earthy flavor from the mushrooms, but was lightened by the crispy crunch and refreshingly raw taste of the peas.

Pea risotto with diced mushrooms, micro peas, and parmesan

Doug ordered the artichoke papperdelle with tomato coulis, pesto, and mozzarella. The delicious pasta had a classic caprese-esque flavor, but was much woodsier with the deeper, heavier taste of black olives and tangy, pickle-y artichoke flavor.

Artichoke papperdelle with tomato coulis, pesto, and mozzarella

Both of Doug’s parents went for the roasted sweet potato ravioli, which had Turkish spinach, beans, and green broad beans in sage butter and white wine.  I’m pretty sure the only reason Doug didn’t order it too was because he didn’t want to be the 3rd person at the table ordering the same dish.  I can’t blame him, though—even I, who doesn’t like sweet potatoes that much, was tempted!  It turned out to be delicious—the sweet potato filling was perfectly creamy, making you feel warm and at home.  Broccoli and green beans gave the dish a fresh, bright touch.

Roasted sweet potato ravioli with Turkish spinach, beans, and green broad beans in sage butter and white wine

For the meat lovers, Dallal offers beef and lamb dishes that sound divine.  They also have a fair selection of seafood dishes.

Before we knew it, all of us had emptied our plates.  Needless to say, when the waiter asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu, we said yes.  Unable to decide what sounded the best, we ordered three of the five dessert on the menu to share.  Thank heavens we have a separate part of our stomach for dessert, right?

While we waited for the desserts, we wondered if our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and worried that we wouldn’t be able to finish all three.  Boy, were we wrong—they disappeared within minutes!  Each of the desserts was amazing.

We started with the chocolate praline mousse with vanilla crème brulee, hot chocolate sauce, and chocolate sorbet.  To be honest, I thought it would be too rich for my taste, but it was perfectly balanced.  The luscious dark chocolate praline was sweet, but not overly so.  The delicious chocolate sorbet, along with the vanilla crème brulee and crunchy rice puffs, added a good contrast to the smooth dark chocolate praline.

Chocolate praline mousse with vanilla crème brulee, hot chocolate sauce, and chocolate sorbet

Our next dessert was the brandied chestnut parfait with bitter chocolate cake, caramel sauce, and vanilla-brandy foam.  If one of those delicious elements wasn’t enough to make us fall in love with this dessert, then all of them together definitely were. The whipped cream was yogurty, sweet, airy, and refreshing, giving a light touch to the heavy, bitter dark chocolate cake. The brandied chestnut on top was scrumptious and the nuts sprinkled atop the whipped cream had an incredible flavor and contributed a welcome crunch to the dessert.  All of it was topped with caramel, which elevated the dessert from exquisite to divine.

Brandied chestnut parfait with bitter chocolate cake, caramel sauce, and vanilla-brandy foam

Our final dessert was probably the most unique.  If yogurt and orange blossom sorbet with tahini and goats’ cheese foam, halva, and kadaif pastry, doesn’t sound exotic and creative to you, then I’m not sure what would.  The kadaif was sweet, but was tempered by the tart flavor of the sorbet.  The flavor of the goat cheese and tahini foam balanced the sweetness of the other elements, ultimately contributing to an incredible and intriguing combination of flavors I’d never imagined before.

Yogurt and orange blossom sorbet with tahini and goats' cheese foam, halva, and kadaif pastry

Despite having eaten what seems like a ton of food (between the bread, appetizer, meals, and desserts), I couldn’t help but want to order more.  Everything was so delicious and the restaurant was so cozy, I didn’t want to leave.  But alas, the restaurant isn’t open 24-7.  We lethargically left, spending some time strolling along the winding, cobblestone streets of Neve Tzedek, past the Suzanne Dallal Center for Dance and Theatre, the Simon Rokach House, Anita (the famous gelato place), and countless little shops and boutiques, on our way home.

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2 thoughts on “Feeling at Home at Dallal

  1. You’ve described this meal perfectly, Taly. I’ve recounted it many times since coming home. I think Dallal’s might be right up there with one of the best restaurants and meals I’ve ever eaten.
    Patty

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