Is Philadelphia hungry for Israeli and Jewish foods? Chef Michael Solomonov certainly thinks so.
Solomonov and his business partner Steve Cook announced that they’ll be adding two more restaurants to their group, which already includes the award-winning Israeli-style restaurant Zahav: A laid back Israeli-style Hummus restaurant named Dizengoff, and a restaurant with “traditional Jewish Diaspora” foods named Abe Fisher. Both are slated to launch down the street from each other in spring 2014, on 16th and Sansom Street in center city Philadelphia.
The news of the latest restaurants in the works broke last week, as the two were in the air, returning from a food tour they had led in Israel.
At Dizengoff the focus will be “really great, consistent hummus,” says Solomonov, who was born in Israel and spent his childhood moving between Israel and the United States.
The menu at the 25-seat restaurant will be very limited, he says. At the moment, he isn’t willing to commit to serving anything beyond hummus and tahini.
“Minimalism is kind of going what we’re going for,” says Solomonov. The restaurant will be “accessible” in terms of both concept and price, he says.
Well, that didn’t last long. We’re talking about star chef Michael Solomonov’s tenure at Citron and Rose, the hot new kosher fine dining establishment in suburban Philadelphia. Only half a year after opening the restaurant with owner David Magerman, Solmonov, known for his innovative Israeli-inspired fare at Zahav, and his partner Steve Cook are pulling out —and they are taking their chef de cuisine, Yehuda Sichel, with them.
To fill Sichel’s spot, Magerman has brought in Philadelphia native Karen Nicolas, the former executive chef at Washington, D.C.’s Equinox. One of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs for 2012, Nicolas has some serious cooking chops, but she’s never cooked kosher food — or Jewish cuisine for that matter.
Nicolas is still practicing the pronunciation of classic Jewish dishes and learning what cuts of meat are kosher, but she has ambitious plans for the Citron and Rose menu. Her goal is to make traditional European Jewish food as modern as possible. “Not many people have really done this with Eastern European cuisine on a high end level,” she said. “I plan on modernizing it and making it more seasonable.”
This blog post is cross-posted from What Is Your Food Worth.
Ask anyone who’s the biggest macher on Philadelphia’s Jewish restaurant scene, and the answer is invariably the same: Chef Michael Solomonov.
Chef Solomonov is best known for Zahav, his shrine to modern Israeli cooking. But in recent years, he’s added Percy Street Barbecue and the Federal Donuts chicken-and-doughnut joints to his growing restaurant empire.
In early November, Chef Solomonov threw the doors open on his newest venture, the Main Line glatt kosher restaurant and catering company Citron and Rose. He’s re-imagining some kosher classics (chopped liver paired with sour cherry, chocolate and pumpernickel; cholent with crispy duck breast standing in for the classic beef or chicken) and even serving a few kosher cocktails (the Lower East Side, made with gin, cucumber and dill; the Reb Roy, with Manischewitz replacing the Rob Roy’s vermouth). Here’s a look at the complete dinner menu.