Fodor’s Choice Israel: Dining

Al Dente, Jerusalem
At first glance, this restaurant seems like a small neighborhood eatery, but it’s much more than that. The reasonably priced food is simply delicious. Classic Italian dishes with homemade pasta vie with creative ideas such as sweet potato soup flavored with orange and ginger; and pumpkin ravioli. The atmosphere is charming, right down to the vines twining around the porch. $

Orna and Ella, Tel Aviv
This pleasant spot is worth several trips. The restaurant styles itself as “home-cooked gourmet,” but it’s also great for cakes and desserts. The day’s highlight might be anything from moussaka to pasta in butternut squash sauce. Desserts are wonderful and include such things as tarte tartin and pear pie. There is often a long wait for tables, especially Friday afternoon and after 8 p.m. on weekdays. Call ahead to be put “in the line.”$-$$

Mul-Yam, Tel Aviv
The prices aren’t low but dining here is a rare pleasure. Everything is flown in fresh from abroad, including Nova Scotia lobsters, red snapper from New Zealand, turbot from the North Sea, and clams from Bretagne. All is tasty and beautifully presented. The location in the trendy Old Port, by the Mediterranean, adds to the flavor and exuberance of the place. $$-$$$$ (photos, top)

Last Refuge, Eilat & the Negev
The dining room, with dark wood paneling and nautical motifs, extends outside to a spacious balcony where diners eat beside the water, looking at Jordan across the way. A specialty of the house is stir-fried, small, spicy sea crabs, prepared in olive oil and garlic. But you’ll also love the Red Sea fish. Friday night is extremely busy, so reserve well in advance. Rte. 90 near overhead bridge, Coral Beach. 08/637-3627. Reservations essential. AE, DC, MC, V. $$$

Herb Farm on Mt. Gilboa, Lower Galilee
This family-run restaurant glories in fresh herbs and good produce. The menu is partly seasonal, partly inspirational. Homemade bread and a “salad basket” of antipasti are fine starters for entrées that might include shallots, forest mushrooms, and goat cheese or a colorful pie of beef, lamb, goose breast and pine nuts. Rte. 667, 2 miles off Rte. 675. 04/653-1093. Reservations essential. AE, DC, MC, V. Closed Sunday. $-$$$

Photos courtesy of Mul-Yam

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