by Sybil Kaplan
photographs by Barry A. Kaplan
Address--Music Square, Nachlat Shiva
Hours--Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday--9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday evening--1 hour after Shabbat ends to 11 p.m.
Kashrut--Mehedrin, Rabbanut Yerushalayim
Jerusalem-born Rachel graduated the culinary program at Hadassah College and subsequently learned to be a pastry chef. We met her when she was owner and manager of Rachel's dairy café on Havatzelet, which she owned and managed for six years.
Summer 2013 she went to Naples to learn how to make their style of pizza. In October, she and her husband opened PIPS (pizza, pasta and salads) on Havatzelet, and we and our friends thought it was the best pizza in Jerusalem!
In November 2016, Rachel opened a classy restaurant, Nahman in Music Square of Nachlat Shiva, the third neighborhood created outside the Old City Walls in 1869. Nahman was one of the founders.
The restaurant, Nahman, sits at one end of the square--two walls are glass; one white brick wall holds the gas taboun; the final side of the room is a bar with a shelf above it holding liquor bottles; four stools are at the bar, and a display case with samples of desserts is also built into the bar. Around one end of the bar is a mirrored wall of shelves with wines and liquors.
Inside there are seats for 53--white tables and black padded chairs with black light fixtures above. Outside is seating for 40.
For brunch, available from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., there are five choices (NIS58), four additions, juices and coffee.
There are 10 entrees (NIS22-55); 7 pizzas (NIS36-69); 6 pasta dishes (NIS49-068) with whole wheat and gluten free for NIS5 extra; and 3 main courses (NIS75-110).
Business meals are available 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. priced according to the main course. Seven desserts (NIS29-36) plus soft drinks, crushed drinks, hot beverages, 11 wines, 5 beers and 17 spirits are all on the menu.
A special children's menu (NIS35) offers fish and chips, spaghetti with tomato or cream sauce, and pizza, plus juice or ice cream.
While Rachel was busy making foods in the tabun, we started our tasting with Pea Risotto (NIS42) from the entrée (appetizer) section. This green curry puree was different, garnished with pea leaves and would be ideal for anyone who likes peas and rice.
From the pizza section came Quatro Formaggi Pizza (NIS69), with all cheeses distinct--ricotta, mozzarella, camembert and Parmesan. Garnished with basil leaves, it was a beautiful presentation and excellent tasting.
In main courses, we tried the children's portion of Fish and chips (regular portion is NIS75). The fish sticks were in a tempura coating; the chips were light brown and crisp and fried just enough. Accompanying them was an aioli paprika dip and a tasty chili dip, just lightly spicy.
From the pasta section came a regular portion of delectable Cheese Tortellini (NIS68) in an olive oil sauce with herbs, cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives.
We couldn't resist trying one of the desserts, and Rachel made us superb Lemon Pie (NIS36). Dollops of lemon curd were between layers of pie dough made into cookies with mascarpone cream and meringue crumbs on top and garnished with strawberry coulis (sweet dessert sauce made with raw berries and sugar and mashed). Unforgettable!
Although we loved everything we tried, our favorite is still the pizza, which we think is the best in Jerusalem!
If you are looking for an Italian dining experience and a lovely visit with Rachel Dabbah, stroll into music square (where live music comes from the performers on stage at just the right volume) and enter Nahman.