Sensuous Small Platesby Tallie Lieberman | 01.01.17
When the sun sets on Levinsky Market, a teeming spice bazaar in South Tel Aviv, the specialty food stalls shutter and the gourmet gastropubs come to life. On darkened Zvulun Street, cozy candlelit Dalida Bar, named for the Italian-Egyptian-French crooner and tragic diva who rode the airwaves in the 1960s, flickers with Old World charm.
This bohemian mainstay beckons handholding couples in search of a shadowy corner, a bottle of fine wine and luscious dishes like spicy feta brûlée—a pungent, creamy aphrodisiac; fiery fish carpaccio sprinkled with roasted freekeh and heady Egyptian spices; brioche “steak” slathered in rich, gratifying bone marrow; and honeyed chicken liver terrine with caramelized hazelnuts.
Nearly everything about Dalida Bar—from its sensuous fare and soft lighting to its gilded mirrors and stirring chansons (“Parole, Parole”)—feels familiar yet unexpected. Chefs Asaf Maoz and Dan Zoaretz are bent on reinventing classic European dishes with an eye to the Middle East; the chicken wing and yogurt ravioli, stuffed with succulent meat and shards of dried yogurt and adorned with pistachios, is a divine homage to Israel’s northern Galilee region in Italian packaging.
A wildly popular spot for date night, Dalida Bar also draws a well-heeled afterwork crowd seeking to blow off steam over choice wines and oddball cocktails like the Trinidad Sour, with almond syrup and Jim Beam, or Salty Colada, with tequila, salt and coconut syrup—not to mention tasty small plates like the watermelon burrata and pickled pumpkin whitefish tartar.
For mingling singletons, the long bar and covered garden, bedecked with fairy lights, are prime real estate for a happening night out in Tel Aviv. And for those of us seeking a few stolen kisses, Dalida Bar’s tiny candlelit bistro tables provide just the right amount of cover.