By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Get a taste of the Mediterranean at Abba Telavivian Kitchen in the South of Fifth neighborhood of South Beach.

The charming and cozy café seats about 50 guests, between small bistro tables indoors and a welcoming terrace outside fitted with comfortable pillow-laden banquettes.

Sam Gorenstein is co-founder and executive chef.

“We inherited the space. We said we have to do something very special for people so when they come in, they can lounge, sit and feel cozy,” Gorenstein said.

Gorenstein stresses Abba is all about merging the flavors, culture, and spices of the coastal city of Tel Aviv with the energy and vibe of Miami Beach.

“For us Tel Aviv and Miami have so many connections. They’re both coastal cities, art deco filled with young people and a lot of energy with cafés and restaurants,” he explained. “I wanted to bring that connection together because of all the similarities that these two amazing cities share.”

“Abba” means father in Hebrew and both owners are dads.

Gorenstein was raised in Colombia but grew up cooking with his mother and eating the Syrian cuisine of his immigrant grandparents.

Hummus from Abba Telavivian Kitchen. (CBS4)

It all begins with the Salatim or “little salad” portion of the menu.

“It’s like little dips such as hummus or babaganoush and the idea is when you come in as a guest you sit down and you get to pick two or three flavors per person and you get to try a little bit of everything before you jump into your main course,” Gorenstein said.

CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo jumped in for the tasting.

She starts with a fresh pita dip into chef’s homemade hummus with tahini, fresh herbs, and olive oil.

“It should be very smooth in the mouth, not heavy,” said Gorenstein.

“This is, as you say, smooth and creamy. You can taste all the fresh ingredients in it. There’s a tiny little bit of a kick. That’s a spectacular hummus,” Petrillo said.

Shakshuka made of poached eggs, tomato and aleppo pepper sauce, olive oil and herbs from Abba Telavivian Kitchen. (CBS4)

Then it’s the classic Israeli breakfast favorite “Shakshuka” made of poached eggs, tomato and aleppo pepper sauce, olive oil and herbs.

“So, it’s got that little kick of the aleppo pepper and the smoothness of the perfectly cooked egg. To me this could go breakfast, lunch, or dinner,” said Petrillo.

They cool off with the refreshing Limonana drink which is frozen lemonade and mint.

Then, finally, the spectacular Jerusalem Bagel with house cured salmon, labneh, lemon tapenade, arugula, cucumber, radish, and pickled onions.

Jerusalem Bagel with house cured salmon, labneh, lemon tapenade, arugula, cucumber, radish, and pickled onions from Abba Televivian Kitchen (CBS4)

“This is the fanciest sandwich I’ve ever had and I’m not sharing,” said Petrillo laughing.

“It’s so beautiful, so tasty, light and fresh.”

Abba Telavivian Kitchen is open from Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast all the way until sunset.

For more info, go to abbatlvkitchen.com

If you would like to try the Shakshuka at home, here is the recipe:

Jerusalem Bagel with house cured salmon, labneh, lemon tapenade, arugula, cucumber, radish, and pickled onions from Abba Televivian Kitchen (CBS4)

PROCESS:

  • In a large rondeaux pan at medium heat.
    Add peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Cook for until translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Add remaining spices and cook for extra 2-3 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, and softly break them apart using a whisk but leaving chunks in the mixture.
  • Add water and braise the mixture slowly on low heat for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer into a cambro container, let cool.
  • Label and refrigerate until needed.

TO ASSEMBLE ONE ORDER:

  • In a large cast iron casserole place shakshuka sauce and warm it up on medium heat.
  • Using the back of a spoon create two wells on each side, and crack one egg in each well.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer casserole to the stone oven and cook for about 2 minutes until the eggs are set but have
    a medium soft yolk.
  • Remove from oven and place casserole on wood liner.
  • Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley, and aleppo pepper.
  • Serve with fresh warm pita cut into halves, and a ramekin of tahini and green harissa sauce.

Lisa Petrillo