69 Rav Herzog
Phone - 02 579 4414
Hours: Sunday through Thursday - 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday - 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday evening - 1 hour after Shabbat ends to 11:30 p.m.
Kashrut - Rabbinut Yerushalayim
Ella is the 14 1/2-year-old daughter of Avichai Van Levin, Jerusalem-born owner of the restaurant named for her. Van Levin previously owned a restaurant in Efrat for eight years and was around other food businesses and has had a strong interest in food for many years.
A glassed-in balcony seats 20 at round tables; a wall of glass windows separates it from the main room, which has attractive lace curtains across the windows, at seating level, to provide privacy for both sides. The main room seats 25; shelves to the ceiling decorate the back wall; a service area and a showcase with cakes are in front; the kitchen is to the right.
After various changes in his life and a few years wondering what he was going to do, Van Levin was out for a walk one day and realized, "I like making people happy and I know what I know how to do."
A store, which was formerly a health food store and, before that, a grocery store, sat empty in the neighborhood where he lived and he began to imagine, "people cozy, in a warm atmosphere." He contacted the real estate agent and rented the space. He worked with an architect to design it, and January 2012, Ella opened, off Tchernikowski, near the strip shopping center.
On the menu are 9 choices of "Breakfasts," ranging from NIS22 to NIS62, with a few to be shared by two people and one large "Chef's Morning."
There are 9 "Starting on the right foot," offerings such as bruschetta, spreads, focaccia and soup and salad, ranging from NIS34 TO NIS43.
Three soups are available each day at NIS34, served with the house bread. On the evening we visited, my companion tried the Moroccan harira, a favorite for those who like beans, with chick peas and lentils, flavored with lemon juice, cumin, parsley and cilantro. He found it to be very tasty. My preference was for the pureed tomato soup, which I found to be one of the best tomato soups I have ever eaten and I asked for a container to take home! The secret was their addition of mint, oregano and date honey.
A regular portion of the home-baked Focaccia (NIS43) was delicious and came with tapenade, dried tomatoes and pesto dips.
Eight "Salads" are available from NIS48 to NIS64.
The 12 "Mains" include pizza, hand-made pastas and special fish daily, ranging from NIS42 to NIS90. Van Levin wanted us to try the reduced size portion of Gravlax (NIS48), a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar and dill, made fresh in the restaurant and garnished with black olives and mixed greens. We both found this quite delectable.
He then brought us a small potion of one of my favorites, Risotto (NIS68), made with rice, mushrooms, onions, parsley, almonds and green basil; it was utterly mouth watering!
Being a mushroom lover, my companion truly enjoyed the small portion of Polenta, NIS42, garnished with asparagus and mushrooms. This would be a great accompaniment to fish.
We also were given a small portion of Seasonal Vegetables Antipasta (NIS58), served with focaccia. Sitting on half an eggplant were greens, cherry tomatoes, squash, beets, sliced sweet potato, Portobello mushrooms, green beans and mozzarella cheese, really a vegetable lovers treat.
There are 9 Desserts (NIS16 to NIS38), and Levin told us, "I made all the cakes myself until late November when I hired a pastry chef."
There are also 12 Cold Drinks (NIS10 to NIS30) and 17 Hot Drinks (NIS7 to NIOS27). We tried a wonderful tea with mint. There are also 7 Golan Heights wines at NIS26 per glass.
Van Levin told us, "everything I keep on the menu, which was planned by my wife, my sister (who works here) and myself, I like personally."
The presentation of each dish we sampled was attractively arranged by Chef Roi Zach, who has been with Van Levin for five years.
If you're looking for an unpretentious restaurant with unique, original vegetarian, moderate-priced meals in a modest setting, a short distance from Rehavia, Ella is the place to go.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.