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  • Writer's pictureMark Vogel

HaMotzi Kosher Restaurant in Jerusalem: A Taste of North Africa in Israel

Kosher Meat Restaurant in Jerusalem, Israel


HaMotzi Kosher Restaurant in Jerusalem, Israel
HaMotzi Kosher Restaurant in Jerusalem, Israel

During a recent visit to Jerusalem, Israel, I dined at HaMotzi, a kosher restaurant distinctively positioned on Jaffa Street, near Machane Yehuda Market. Interestingly, HaMotzi's original establishment was located within the market itself, hinting at its deeply rooted connection to local traditions and the community.

 

HaMotzi offers a fascinating gastronomic delve into North African cuisine, with a pronounced Algerian emphasis. It was opened by Chef Avi Levi in 2012. Chef Levi, a victor on the Israeli version of "Master Chef," brings his heritage and experiences from the Musrara neighborhood to the table, literally. His journey from childhood to the various stages of his life, including global travels in search of culinary inspiration, is echoed in the restaurant's offerings.


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HaMotzi Kosher Restaurant in Jerusalem, Israel

“Chef Avi Levi's personal and professional journey is the cornerstone of this establishment, making every dish a story and every bite a memory.”

The restaurant's interior, housed in a historical building once used by the Etz Haim seminary for over a century, is adorned with decorations collected by Chef Levi from North Africa. These artefacts, including copper pots and age-old utensils, contribute to an ethnic ambiance that complements the North African-inspired menu.


HaMotzi Kosher Restaurant in Jerusalem, Israel

The menu at HaMotzi is full of colors, flavors, and aromas, blending traditional Algerian recipes with contemporary twists. The food is an homage to Chef Levi's childhood memories and his Maghreb culinary heritage, fused with his professional evolution as a chef. The Maghreb is a region in North Africa that traditionally includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania. Signature dishes such as cigars filled with sweetbread and asado, the pastille with its rich filling of chicken, almonds, and saffron, and the boulette, featuring crispy Algerian meatballs, encapsulate the essence of Algerian cuisine.

 

In addition to these classics, Chef Levi has introduced new dishes that showcase his distinctive gastronomic style. Among them are an Algerian porterhouse burrito, barbunya with Moroccan chips, and a Jerusalem Old City pretzel served with a salad tray—a nostalgic nod to the Old City's culinary legacy.


HaMotzi Kosher Restaurant in Jerusalem, Israel

At HaMotzi, the dining experience is further enriched by "Mama's Kitchen," a corner where Chef Levi's mother, Mrs. Miriam Levy, prepares renowned dishes and desserts. It's not only about the food but also the stories that each dish carries, narrated by the antique stove and the traditional objects that adorn the restaurant.

 

HaMotzi is not just a restaurant but a venue that caters to private, business, and family events. With its capacity to accommodate up to 60 guests, the restaurant offers personalized service to ensure that each event resonates with harmony and authenticity.

 

A Sampling of the HaMotzi Menu

 

Starters:


- The meal can begin with an "Aperitif" of handmade bread and a platter of mixed salads, offering a vegan-friendly start.

- Traditional Middle Eastern dishes like hummus with chickpeas and olive oil, and roasted eggplant with tahini, pomegranate concentrate, and olive oil are available.

- For those seeking a richer flavor, there's the super spicy beef handmade cigar, and the Algerian "Maakouda," a fried Moroccan pie with potato and vegetables, again catering to vegan diners.

- Fresh salads such as the market salad and the Tabbouleh salad offer fresh, herby accompaniments to the starters.


HaMotzi Kosher Restaurant in Jerusalem, Israel

First Course:


- The first course includes a variety of dishes that showcase rich flavors and textures, such as cigars filled with veal sweetbreads and sphondre, and a vegan option of fried cauliflower with white tahini.

- The "Quara dil khuf" presents fish balls in a spicy sauce, and the "Fish in Chermoula" features fried fish fillet in an Algerian sauce.

- For chickpea enthusiasts, there's hummus falafel, while the toasted liver toast provides a hearty option with chopped chicken liver on homemade bread with hard-boiled egg and pickles.


Main Course:


- The main course section boasts a selection of robust dishes, such as the "Hamotzi's" mixed grill, offering a combination of sweetbreads, goose breast, spring chicken, and spleen, served on rice.

- Vegetarian options are also notable, like the stuffed artichokes with spring chicken in olives, chickpeas, and lemon sauce, as well as "Mommy's stuffed vegetables," a variable dish that changes daily.

- Meat lovers have various choices including boulettes (Algerian meatballs with rice), spicy head meat with chickpeas, beef "Sofrito," and even the unique offering of lamb "Tfifiya araias" - homemade pita stuffed with lamb meat, carrot, and lemon.

 

Desserts:


- The dessert menu brings sweet finishes like the Algerian cookies called "Yo Yo," filled with almonds and coated with coconut.

- Other sweet offerings include "La Cigar," cigars filled with pistachios, almonds, and Zaban nougat cream, and "Makrut," date cookies and nuts from semolina dough coated in syrup.

- "Mother Miriam's Semolina Cake" with lemon syrup and "Shabakiya," crisp tea cookies coated with homemade honey, showcase traditional Algerian sweets.

- For a more indulgent dessert, there's the "Desserts plate" or the "Moroccan party plate," which is a larger assortment designed for night-time enjoyment.

 

Drinks:


- The drink menu complements the meals with a variety of options from vodkas and gins to aniseed drinks like Ouzo and Arak Hamitza.

- A selection of wines, beers, and non-alcoholic beverages like soft drinks and apple/peach/grape flavored water is available to suit all preferences.

- The cocktail list offers creative mixes like the "Tanjier Beach" and "Casablanca Nights," as well as non-alcoholic options for those who prefer it.

 

Overall, the menu at HaMotzi is curated to offer a diverse range of flavors from the rich Algerian and North African palate, ensuring that each guest can find something to savor, regardless of dietary preferences or restrictions.

 

Dining at HaMotzi is not merely a meal; it's an immersive experience that transports you through the rich culinary landscapes of North Africa, with a strong Algerian focus, while being seated in the heart of Jerusalem. Chef Avi Levi's personal and professional journey is the cornerstone of this establishment, making every dish a story and every bite a memory. After visiting the nearby Shuk, be sure to enjoy a meal at HaMotzi.


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