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Pini's Kitchen

CALL NOW  02 625 5506
 Emek Refaim 24 Jerusalem
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Pini's Kitchen---A Journey into Middle Eastern Cuisines 

by Sybil Kaplan
                                       Photographs by Barry A. Kaplan

Hours: Sunday through Thursday 12 noon to 11 p.m.
            Friday 12 noon until 4:30 p.m.
            Saturday evening 8:30 p.m. to 12 midnight
            Reservations recommended

Emek Refaim 24
02 625 5506

Kosher--Rabbanut Jerusalem    

The ambience of Pini's Kitchen is one of a homey, friendly place to dine as you walk through the main door and you find a long wood table in the center of the room with a pot of chick peas and a lot of condiments placed there. There is seating for 21 around the room, and at the back is an old-fashioned stove with the serving and preparation area and copper pots and pans hanging down. The
kitchen can be seen through a window.

Walk through a stone arch to the side room with wooden tables and eclectic chairs to seat 29. Colorful tiles are on the floors. Dark wooden shelves hang on the stone walls decorated with kitchen utensils.  There are soft hanging lights, a few wall sconces and some track lights. At one end are large picture windows looking out to Emek Refaim; at the other end are doors leading to a room for private events.

Pini Levy, son of a family of butchers and a fifth-generation Jerusalemite, and his son, Itzik, have been in the restaurant business for more than 40 years. Pini, who was a butcher, is a self-taught chef; he taught his son,who worked in a number of well-known Jerusalem restaurants.  

Pini's Kitchen opened on the trendy Emek Refaim last summer. As soon as one is seated, the knowledgeable waitresses, Noa  and Shirley, bring the mezza salads and bread--generous portions, enough for three to four people. The round hunk of white bread is brushed with oil; it is served with sea salt in a tiny, pottery tajine-like container.

Included among the mezza, which patrons receive as part of the cover for NIS12 is roasted eggplant with chuma pepper (a Libyan Jewish sauce made from powdered sweet and hot peppers, crushed garlic, ground caraway seeds, cumin and sometimes lemon juice and salt). Then there are Moroccan carrots; roasted eggplant with tchina, which has a very special taste; spicy salsa; nicely flavored beets with a little lemony taste; a crunchy green salad with dry cranberries; black olives; a little spicy cooked tomato and eggplant salad;  and masabacha (an Arabic dip made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic), garnished with hard-boiled egg.

The menu offers 13 appetizers ranging in price from NIS38-52. The first one, in sample size, were Moroccan cigars, wrapped in paper, standing in a silver mesh container,  filled with liver, accompanied by the tchina sauce, drizzled with the masabacha (NIS 42). 
Next came a specialty of the house--spinal cord on which we squeezed fresh lemon (NIS 42), with a unique taste, like baby chicken. Pini told us the recipe came "from my house; I know it for 60 years."
The last appetizer was a regular size serving of Moroccan mazuzim (NIS 52), delicious. crispy fried sardines stuffed with herbs and special tasting with a lemon squeeze.

In order to spoil us, the waitress also brought us shot glasses of arak with lemon slices.

On to main courses of which they offer 9, ranging in price from NIS68 to l39 as well as 6 house specialties (ranging from NIS75 to 110). These come with a choice of rice or noodles or green salad or side of the day.

The regular-size portion of Siniya (NIS85) is Syrian kebob (made like small meatballs) of lamb and veal, cooked with eggplant, onions, tomatoes, parsley and tchina then topped with a pastry cover and put in the oven. Pini then cut around the pastry cover and lifted it back for us to sample the delicious kebobs underneath. 

A house specialty is the Moroccan Oxtail stew with whole chickpeas and whole heads of garlic (NIS95) served in a colorful pottery dish and with melt-in-your mouth meat. The whole head of garlic, for my garlic-loving companion, was delectable.   

The other house specialty we tried was Lamb sofrito with potatoes and kubeh halabi (NIS95). Kubeh is the national dish of Syria but popular throughout the Middle East, made of bulghur, minced onions and finely ground meat, torpedo-shaped and fried or shaped into a ball and baked or cooked in soup. Kubeh  halabi is an Iraqi version named after the city Aleppo. The stew was wonderful and the kubeh exceptional.

If you still have room for dessert, there are four regular desserts (NIS35) and three daily specials. On the evening we were at Pini's, there were watermelon cubes with mint leaves and rose water; tapioca with melon; pareve vanilla ice cream with watermelon jam; and the one we tried, fruit salad. 

The large beverage menu includes wines by the glass or bottle, beers, liquors, liqueurs and soft drinks. 

Besides just enjoying an extraordinary meal, Pini's has some special events like a Welcoming of the Sabbath tasting with Pini on Fridays at 12 noon for NIS95; business lunch Sunday through Friday from 12 noon to 5, for the price of the main course; a Sunday tasting menu with wine; and music at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings.

Vegetarians will not have a problem as there are non-meat choices in appetizers and main courses.

Eating at Pini's Kitchen is a very exciting trip to many Middle Eastern countries with exotic foods to taste, especially if you are flexible and willing to try unusual foods.

The  writer and photographer were guests of the restaurant.

Make sure to say you found them on Janglo.

SERVICING: Jerusalem

Array Last updated: 9.6.2014 | Views: 1462

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