Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani has already made waves in New York City with his pita counter Miznon, but now he’s brought another one of his restaurants to town, this one promising a more dramatic dining experience.
Shani opens his Tel Aviv restaurant HaSalon tonight at 735 10th Ave., between 49th and 50th streets, in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a spot known for theatrical dinner parties and a menu centered on seasonal local ingredients in Israel, and here, the experience will be similar. It will only operate three nights per week with two seatings per night, one at 6 p.m. and one at 8 p.m., at which point music from Bach and Mozart will give way to a DJ-infused party.
The a la carte menu is rooted in Israeli cuisine, but French and Japanese influences will appear as well. It’ll change on a nightly basis based on what Shani — who now lives here — finds in New York markets; highlighting local ingredients is a big focus here, too.
“In the end, it’s very personal to my experience here,” he says. “New York is my main ingredient in my menus.”
Diners can expect dishes like an avocado bruschetta; thinly sliced tomatoes with olive oil and salt, called naked tomato sashimi; red snapper carpaccio; and a sage-spiced pici pasta dish. That last dish, the pici, is made from a single 12-foot long noodle, a piece of which is tightly swirled onto a plate. He was inspired by the fact that his kitchen was big enough to roll one, massive noodle.
“It looks like a regular pasta dish, but when you are eating it, you feel that it was created from one body of the noodle — and that’s exciting,” Shani says.
The menu is divided by vegetables, fish, and meat, with everything made from an open kitchen within the 124-seat space. There’s also plenty of room for dancing, which often happens at the Tel Aviv location.
The tomato sashimi, snapper, and pici run from $24 to $31, while other items like a whole roasted chicken on focaccia is $79. Another extravagant dish, a 2.5-foot-long lamb Shishlik kebab, is priced at $89.
On the drink front, Middle Eastern wines are on tap. Shani says wine has traditionally fueled the HaSalon soirée, but here he’s brought on cocktails too. Those will be simple, so as to not distract the diner from the food itself, he says.
Once the second seating rolls in, Shani is expecting a wild party to get going, people dancing on tables and all.
“But there’s one thing that’s not changing, the line of eight cooks standing in the middle of that mess and working very quietly, very consciously, on their food.”
HaSalon opens tonight at 6 p.m. and will have two seatings per evening on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; reservations are needed.