Anyone who watched the first season of Game of Chefs in 2014 will remember Chef Hmodi Okala. He may not have won the show but he definitely won the hearts of viewers for being a great contestant and team player.
Following the success of the show, Chef Hmodi followed his dream to open his own restaurant, Eataliano dalla Costa, combining traditional Italian cuisine with touches of the local Arab-Galilee cuisine he grew up with. Prior to that, he ran the kitchen at Magdalena, a Mediterranean Arabic chef restaurant in Migdal near Tiberias.
Eataliano is a spacious restaurant located on the upper floor of a beach-side building, overlooking the sea. The central feature of the restaurant is an open kitchen with a large taboon oven in the middle.
With the help of the wait staff, we decided to order dishes from the menu with the most Arabic influence, to get a full appreciation of Chef Hmodi’s vision and talents.
Our first dish was Panzerotti (NIS 46), a fusion between a traditional Italian dish and an Arabic Sambusak. The fried pastry pockets were filled with ricotta, spinach and Brinza cheese, served with a tzatziki dip. The dish was a tasty balance of interesting flavors and textures.
The Insalata di Giardino (NIS 49) was a simple salad of tomato, cucumber, lettuce and radishes, topped with shredded feta cheese, za’atar, parsley, mint and pita croutons. The simple dish was a cross between an Italian Panzanella and an Arabic Fattoush salad.
For the main course, we opted for the Pizza Sineya (NIS 79) with a lamb ragu and tomato salsa sauce, drizzled with tahina and topped with a salad of arugula, tomato, parsley and pine nuts. The flavors worked beautifully together and the salad added a fresh balance to the rich flavor of the lamb.
We also had the Fish in a Taboon (NIS 133), two fillets of crispy sea bass served on a bed of roasted vegetables. The entire dish was cooked in the taboon oven which added a lovely charcoal flavor to the vegetables. The fish was crispier than I normally go for, but the flavor was very good.
You know a dish is good when you are still thinking about it a month later. For us, that was the Zeppola (NIS 49) dessert which included three perfectly crispy ricotta churros served with a selection of orange whipped cream, white chocolate cream, Mascarpone ice cream, Amarena cherries and cinnamon crumble. It all worked so perfectly together and was unlike any dessert we had tried before.
We also had the Tiramisu (NIS 47) which came served with coffee ice cream on a bed of rocks and liquid ice for effect. It was a very traditional dish but nothing in comparison to the Zeppola.
The service at Eataliano was attentive and friendly, and the view from the restaurant was beautiful. We noticed that although the restaurant was busy with a number of large family groups, it was not noisy at all. We loved the whole meal, but the dessert was the real highlight!
Eataliano dalla Costa (Not Kosher), 96 HaAliya HaShniya Street, +972 4 660 1011