Following two years of meticulous planning the culinary masterwork of Chef Aviv Moshe, Messa, in Tel Aviv, showcased in a striking décor styled by interior designer Alex Miltis, came to fruition in 2004. Nine years later Messa still ranks as one of the city’s finest dining experiences. In fact, it is the only Israeli restaurant to be included in Conde Nast Traveller’s ‘Hot List’ of restaurants worldwide.
‘Messa’, a slight twist on the Spanish word for table, is given its name based on the restaurant’s interior: a majestic white marble dining room. In the centre features long walnut wood high tables adorned with wine glasses and candles. A more intimate seating option is also available around the perimeter. In the adjacent room there is, in stark contrast, an all-black bar. Offering the highest quality wines and spirits in a vibrant ambience, this is a perfect place to retire to after the meal to extend an evening of luxury and sophistication into the early hours of the morning.
Messa’s gourmet cuisine encapsulates Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients with Provencal cooking techniques. The inspiration, says Chef Aviv Moshe, comes from ‘memories from my Grandmother’s kitchen’. It was here that he learned how to use North African spices – such as “ras el hanout”, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and coriander – combined with local products like “balady” eggplant, tahini, olive oil, “labane” (sour cheese), and pomegranate.
The result of this culinary fusion is an array of imaginative and exquisite creations, each made up of several elements which beautifully complement each other in taste and texture. Dishes listed on the first course business lunch menu include, among many others, purple calamari served with lemon cream, relish and foie gras, a rump steak carpaccio with tomato seeds, mustard and parmesan, or yellowtail sashimi with onions toasted in sumac, caramelized eggplant and refreshing wasabi sorbet.
For the main course meat lovers can feast on the succulent short ribs seasoned with caramelized onions, apples and Portobello with red cabbage and wasabi cream or the more classic seared sirloin served with truffle cream and baked garlic sauce. Alternatively, if fish tickles your fancy Messa’s signature dish is the sea bass fillet coated in crunchy toasted almonds and served with asparagus, gnocchi and delicate turmeric butter. Lighter vegetarian options on the menu include numerous exotic cheese fondues and homemade pastas.