Showcasing the vegetable in all its forms, Opa is putting Israel on the region’s gastronomic map. From the heart of Tel Aviv’s Levinsky spice market, chef Shirel Berger spins humble, organic produce into culinary gold.
Opa’s fare is presented in an imaginative 10-course menu that changes micro-seasonally. Relying on a network of small-scale farmers, Berger presents a multi-coloured array of dishes designed to share. Diners can expect the likes of carrot carpaccio, celery cream tartlets and raspberry and asparagus soup, but thanks to the revolving crops in Israel, will never experience the same meal twice.
While a plant-based ethos is the name of the game, Berger does not classify Opa as a vegan restaurant. Beyond serving alternatives to meat and dairy, the chef aims to reduce Opa’s airmiles and pollution through sourcing ingredients from Israel, and avoids excess food waste by cooking with every part of the vegetable. Inspiration may spring from the leaves of a tomato or melon peel, both of which have featured on the tasting menu.
Every aspect of the restaurant is designed to hero the dishes. The elegant 35-seat dining room is understated, with white-washed walls, softwood furniture and warm, low-hanging lamps. The dishes appear from the open kitchen as vibrant splashes of colour, equally meticulous and artistically plated.
As well as celebrating the potential of plant life, Opa recognises family traditions. Having grown up in a family surrounded by food, Berger always knew that her career lay in gastronomy. She and her twin sister, Sharona, opened Opa in 2018, in tribute to their grandfather, who owned his own restaurant. Sharona takes the lead in front-of-house management, while Shirel’s domain is in the kitchen.
In Opa’s four short years, the restaurant has rocketed to the top of Tel Aviv’s dining scene and, with the ambitious chef Berger at its helm, its influence is bound to keep growing across the region. Leading the charge on plant-based, local and showstopping cuisine, Opa is crowned this year’s One To Watch at Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023.
Now read the interview with Shirel Berger and watch the video about Opa:
The One To Watch Award recognises a rising star restaurant within the MENA region which 50 Best believes has the potential to break into the list in the years to come. Its winner is selected by the 50 Best team based on the votes of its Academy and specific editorial criteria.
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