Friday, April 11, 2014

Restaurants in Tel Aviv: Little Italy Picnic - Italian Picnic Market in Sarona

We mentioned in the previous post that we went to Sarona today, but what we didn't mention, since we thought it deserved a post of its own, was that we actually ate at a newly opened restaurant with a very interesting and unique concept there too. The restaurant is actually part of Little Italy - a complex of 4 different restaurants (you can read about all of them here, if you read Hebrew) in Sarona, and the idea is that they give you a picnic basked (that you later return, of course), filled with Italian style goodies, that you can eat either at a table like this:
Or on the grass, since they can give you a blanket as well.
We really liked the concept, as well as the food (we tried some pizza and pasta with meatballs), which is really delicious, although definitely not kosher, if that matters to you, and we met some friends in the restaurant, too, who had tried the ice cream on offer, and loved that too. So it seems both the food and the desserts are worth trying!
We will definitely be coming back to Picnic, and we look forward to trying the other Little Italy restaurants in Sarona in the future as well!

Shopping in Tel Aviv: The Sarona Complex

We are not really sure when the Sarona complex opened partly (because it is still not completely open), but when we passed the area today, on our way to the more established Azrieli shopping center, we noticed that some stores in the much awaited Sarona shopping area were already open, so we decided to go there to see what it was like. And while the Sarona area is far from "ready", we have to say it looks very promising so far!
First of all, it is a nicer area to walk around in, at least in the spring and fall (in other words: when it is not too hot!), than most other shopping areas in Tel Aviv, for the simple reason that it is outside. There's also playgrounds for kids, some greenery, a fish pond etc., making this a perfect location for anyone going shopping with kids too.
The historic buildings of Sarona have also been renovated really beautifully, so we would actually say that the area is worth visiting even if you are not shopping, but we suspect it will be pretty crowded at least in the beginning when it opens, which will probably make that a bit less enjoyable.
There are several restaurants (including some really good ones, like Rustico) and coffee shops in the area as well, so you can really make a day of it if you do decide to come here. The area is located very close (we are talking a very short walking distance) to Azrieli Center, but has less, yet more unique stores than the big mall, in our opinion.
So we will definitely be coming back when Sarona is fully ready! For now, we'd say that around half of the stores/companies are open.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Restaurants in Tel Aviv: Al-Jamila in Jaffa

Last weekend, Haaretz had a piece about Al-Jamila, a fairly new restaurant in Jaffa, right by the flea market. Their piece made Al-Jamila sound so interesting we decided to give it a try ourselves, the same day we read the piece. And a fine experience it was too! The food is both original and impeccable, and the same goes for the decor.
If you'd like to eat in the vicinity of the Jaffa fleamarket (that definitely has its own, very unique vibe), Al-Jamila is definitely an excellent choice. We can especially recommend the Arabic dumplings as well as the Fattoush salad, both amazing!
The place also seems to have quite a lot of wine, but we did not try any. The selection looked really nice though!
You will find Al-Jamila on Oley Zion 4, right by the Jaffa fleamarket, but unfortunately we haven't been able to find a website for them (in English or Hebrew) where you could take a look at their menu.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Restaurants in Tel Aviv: Wineberg

Another restaurant that is located pretty near our house, but that we have been overlooking for quite some time for some reason, is Wineberg. We recently decided to give it a try, however, and were pretty pleasantly surprised! Here's why:

Wineberg has a cute and cozy, while not overly fancy, decor, making it perfect for dates and meetings with friends alike.
They also make really nice tapas, something that can be hard to find elsewhere in Tel Aviv.
But if tapas is not your thing, you can find other, larger dishes as well. (We especially liked the baked ziti)
They also seem to have a nice selection of different alcoholic drinks, such as wine (of course!), different beers etc. So you can find unusual things to drink here as well, if that is your thing.
You can apparently have brunch and breakfast here, too. We haven't tried that, yet, though, but look forward to doing so at some point in the future. we will definitely be back and can't believe we have been skipping this place for so long, as it really is quite charming!

We didn't find a website for Wineberg, but they do have a Facebook page and you can check out their menu here.

Restaurants in Tel Aviv: Gelateria Siciliana

Quite a few ice cream bars and ice cream places in Tel Aviv claim to have the best ice cream in the city, but the ice cream bar that most people consider the best is Gelateria Siciliana, that can be found in 2 different locations in the city: On Ibn Gvirol 63 and Ben Yehuda 110. We mostly go to the Ben Yehuda branch, since it is fairly close to our house. And we must admit the ice cream is pretty good!
The decor is nothing special, however, so if you are expecting the place to be fancy and high end, you'll be disappointed. But then again, almost none of the Tel Aviv ice cream bars are very special or fancy, so this is not something specific just for Siciliana.

There are tons of different flavors to choose from, and Gelateria Siciliana also sells vegan gelato if that is your thing. We hear that is pretty good too, but we can't say if it's true or not, due to only having tried the regular ice cream. They are said to have some ice creams suitable to those who are lactose intolerant as well.
For more info on Siciliana, check out their cool website, at least if you read Hebrew!

We'd definitely recommend this ice cream bar for ice cream lovers visiting Tel Aviv! Keep in mind, however, that they do not sell much besides ice cream (possibly some drinks), so this place is only worth visiting if it is indeed ice cream you are after.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Shopping in Tel Aviv: Azieli Center

The Azrieli Towers are some of the best known buildings in all of Tel Aviv, but shopping aficionado should also know that the Azrieli Center, as the shopping center part of the towers is called, is a great place to shop as well. You will find several stores you will not be able to find elsewhere in the city here, from Forever 21 to H&M, as well as two large food courts, so you can definitely get your drink and eat on too!

The mall consists of 2 large floors full of stores + some coffee shops scattered on floor 4, and a single flower store on floor 1, and you can find pretty much any type of store here, from make up stores like MAC to beauty product emporiums like Laline and book stores such as Steimatzky, bakeries like Roladin, Adidas and NIKE stores, a Zara store, a Pull and Bear and Mango store, a GAP store and much more.
So no matter what you are looking for, Azrieli Center is usually worth a visit!

The mall may be a bit crowded during holidays and weekends, though, so if you can, come during the weekdays when nothing special is going on.

The transportation to the Azrieli Center from all over Tel Aviv is pretty good, so it shouldn't be an issue to get here, even if the mall is not located in the center of town. There is also a big railway station right next to it, if you should want to leave town right after you visit, or visit it first thing after you take the train to Tel Aviv from the airport or something.

Spa in Tel Aviv: The May Spa at the Crowne Plaza Hotel

Tel Aviv has a few good spas, but maybe not as many as many larger Western cities. Almost every big hotel has some kind of spa, that you can visit even if you are not staying at the hotel, though, so if you are having trouble finding the treatments you want to do elsewhere, or if there simply does not seem to be a spa near where you are staying in Tel Aviv, checking out the spas may be worth your while.
One of the spas we recently visited is exactly such a spa, located at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, on the beach in Tel Aviv. We went here for some massages (that were excellent!) and some time in the pool and hot tub that you also get access to as a visitor to the spa, and have to say that while this spa is not very luxurious and does not have any super rare treatments, it is nice and basic, and the treatments offered are done well.

If you book any treatment at the spa, you also get free access to their pools for as long as you want, so if you want to go to a nice indoor pool, this spa is a great choice as well.
The only complaint we have about the spa is that the locker rooms and showers don't seem to be cleaned very often during the day. We do understand that the spa cannot be blamed for messy guests, but keeping the locker rooms spotless at all times is a must for a high end spa if you ask us, and their locker rooms were far from spotless when we were there...

The spa is located on 145 Ha Yarkon street in the center of the city, and they do have a website in Hebrew, you can see it here, but we did not manage to find an English version of it. They also have a Facebook page, check it out here.