Housed in a former storage unit in Tel Aviv’s bustling yet scruffy Levinsky Market, Opa restaurant offers a fine dining experience set against a backdrop of wholesale storefronts and bodega-style corner stores. Designed by architect and interior designer Vered Kadouri, and Tel Aviv-based husband and wife led design practice Craft & Bloom, the 35-seat restaurant embraces an austere yet poised, pared down aesthetic that reflects their shared love of modern minimalism and thoughtful use of local, natural materials, whilst echoing the venue’s minimalist dishes and use of fresh, local ingredients that feature on Chef Shirel Berger’s refined vegan menu.
Located in Tel Aviv’s Frorentin neighbourhood, Levinsky Market is a busy marketplace that traces its origins to the spice stalls that Jewish immigrants from Greece set up in the 1930s. A subsequent influx of Iranian immigrants a few decades later introduced even more flavours and aromas, while today the Market is teeming with spices, nuts, and dried fruits sellers, bakeries and restaurants. Amid such a loud, polyphonic and colourful environment, Opa restaurant stands out for its minimalism design which was inspired by Berger’s cuisine and process: minimal, clean and locally sourced. In fact, from outside, the venue looks much more like a gallery than restaurant thanks to a glass and dry wall façade.
Inside, the stripped-down space is airy and bright, featuring rough plaster walls, polished concrete floors and restrained furnishings. At the back, a white-painted a stone-paved patio is illuminated by a large skylight. The use of natural materials like plaster, concrete and stone is complemented by natural wood furniture, and ceramic tableware and vases by local ceramicists Merav Waldman and Leehee of Out Wandering Ceramics. Designed by Vered Kadouri and Craft & Bloom, the pendant lights were also locally made by a craftsman in Jaffa.
Prominently positioned near the entrance, the glass-enclosed kitchen allows patrons to closely observe 27-year-old Chef Shirel Berger in action transforming humble vegetables into haute cuisine dishes through a variety of techniques such as fermentation, souring and long cooking, and bold ingredient combinations like corn, chipotle and coffee, smoked celery root and almond milk. More than a gesture of showmanship, the open kitchen at the heart of the restaurant encapsulates Opa’s mission to be “a place where food is consumed as much with the eyes as it is with the stomach, and quality ingredients are prepared with respect, care, and transparency”.