Israeli cuisine has become increasingly popular and well-regarded in recent years, and for good reason. It is a melting pot of culinary traditions reflecting the diverse cultures and ethnicities that have shaped the country’s history. Surfside Florida is a wasteland of restaurants unless you happen to be kosher, in which case you may be very happy. Many other people live in the area or nearby, and there have been few non-kosher options for them. Luckily a great new Israeli (non-kosher) restaurant, Neya has opened at 941 Harding Avenue, south of the Bal Harbour Shops. But this isn’t just any old Israeli restaurant, Neya’s chef Ben Siman Tov uses flavourful ingredients and a modern approach to his cooking. His restaurant is attractive, contemporary, and upscale. This 2,700 square foot corner spot has large, soundproof wraparound windows, and is decorated in dark woods, matte black accents, and dim lighting. It also has a large inviting bar and an open kitchen.
We’ve been to Neya numerous times for weekend brunch or dinner and have never been disappointed. Chef adds non-typical ingredients and techniques to elevate the Israeli food, to make it original, aromatic, and dynamic. From crudo to mezze, small plates, salads, and large plates, there is something for everyone. Some standout dishes for me were the Hamachi carpaccio, the fried cauliflower with pomegranate, feta, and brown butter, the truffle wild mushroom flatbread with chestnut and provolone, the chicken shish kebab, the tender octopus hummus, the truffle wild mushroom polenta, grilled branzino with Jerusalem artichoke purée, harissa tiger prawns with tzatziki and lime, and a great dinner special of oxtail tortellini. For brunch, we enjoyed shakshuka and roasted eggplant, whole toasted cauliflower, roasted baby gem salad with marmalade, and pine nuts with Manchego. They use a Jasper grill for many of their dishes. There are also a few interesting dessert options.
The bar is pretty impressive too, with several signature cocktails and some top-shelf spirits. I ordered a lychee martini, which they did an exemplary job with. There are a number of champagne choices and a global wine selection of some optimal picks.
Chef Ben uses new techniques and flavour combinations to create exciting and unique dishes. Sharing is encouraged and it is a great place to dine with family and friends.
I live nearby and dread the traffic and crowds when I venture south to dine so Neya is a great alternative. However, once the word gets out it will become a destination dining experience.