Reviewed by Sybil Kaplan
Imagine a restaurant with atmosphere, a spectacular view and outstanding, gourmet Italian food. It’s Montefiore, right in Jerusalem, by the windmill.
Ahmad Gubron has been with the restaurant in this area since 1985—as manager, server, sometimes helping the chef, whatever is needed – although the restaurant in this particular location, next to the Konrad Adenaur Conference Center, has been open about 12 years.
Chef/owner Meir Ben Rosh (who also is chef at Café b’teatron, at the Jerusalem Theatre) became chef/owner a year and a half ago.
The large restaurant with glass-enclosed balcony overlooks the Old City Walls and Mount Zion; there are soft lights on the columns, which are the length of the dining room, inside. Fresh flowers adorn each table, covered in white, patterned, damask-looking tablecloths with matching napkins. Wood floors add to the warm atmosphere.
Montefiore, Yemin Moshe (under the windmill) – Photo by Barry A Kaplan, Jerusalem
Starters include cold dishes such as salads, salmon carpaccio and Bruschetta; warm dishes include artichokes, figs, mushrooms and gnocchi.
Entrees include five types of pizza; five types of fish; and 11 pasta variations.
Assistant Chef Atef Sumren, a graduate of the Hadassah College culinary course and currently studying engineering, presented us with a wide array of starters, beginning with right-from-the-oven foccaccio, looking like bread sticks. These were served with sun-dried tomato dip and pesto with olive oil and garlic—absolutely terrific.
Next we tasted smoked salmon carpaccio in a lemony aioli sauce with delicious large green capers as garnish (54NIS).
Montefiore – Assistant Chef Atef Sumren – Photo by Barry A Kaplan, Jerusalem
Warm appetizers we tasted included lemony, very light gnocchi in a grilled tomato sauce with sage and Bulgarian cheese (52NIS), followed by artichoke head stuffed with mushrooms in a carmelized sauce (64NIS). I am a great lover of artichokes while my companion loves mushrooms. I found the sauce slightly sweet, almost like butterscotch but suited to the dish. Israeli artichoke heads tend to be a bit hard and chewy.
The chef also wanted us to taste the stuffed figs with goat cheese and walnuts in a cream and Parmesan sauce (58NIS) which was served very warm. The sauce was very delicate so as not to overpower the stuffed cheese.
Hearing my companion loved mushrooms, we were then treated to mushrooms with shallots in a cream and chocolate orange liqueur sauce, just out of the frying pan. The chocolate liqueur was very delicate and subtle.
For an entrée, we tried mushroom ravioli in a cream sauce with porcini butter (78NIS) whose sauce seemed a little sweet, like the carmalized cream.
Montefiore – View of Old City Walls and Mount Zion from Restaurant – Photo by Barry A Kaplan, Jerusalem
All of the dishes were beautifully presented with a minimum of garnishes.
There is a separate wine list with three wines of the month and a separate dessert/beverage menu with eight deserts (34-38NIS).
I tried the crème carmel (38 NIS) which was very light with just a hint of sweetness while my companion had the baked cheese cake (38 NIS) which was not as sweet as cheese cakes usually are and was very light.
An Israeli breakfast buffet is available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for 68NIS.
The writer and photographer were guests of the restaurant.
Sybil Kaplan is a journalist, food writer and cookbook author who lives in Jerusalem and leads walks in Machaneh Yehudah, the Jewish produce market.