One of the first things you see when you arrive at Anna, an Italian restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem, is a still life of ingredients: a basket of kohlrabi, a bowl of olives and confited garlic cloves, pots of fresh herbs arranged artfully on the pass. The tableau is a fitting tribute to the place. The restaurant is on the top floor of the 19th-century villa where the artist Anna Ticho lived and worked. When she died in 1980, she left her home to the Israel Museum. After a renovation, the chef Moshiko Gamlieli opened Anna in May 2016.
If you live in Jerusalem, you might have heard of Mr. Gamlieli. He runs the beloved restaurant Mona and was part of the team that opened the iconoclastic Machneyuda, in the bustling Jerusalem market. With Anna, Mr. Gamlieli takes a more conservative, inclusive approach. The restaurant is kosher (Machneyuda is brazenly not), and the Italian menu, which focuses on fish and dairy (omitting meat to comply with kosher law), aims to be accessible.
The airy white dining room, with vaulted ceilings and swooping arches, is stunning, if stark. Better to dine on the trellised balcony. It’s a nice place to sip Anna’s fragrant take on a Bellini, made with fig eau de vie, peach liqueur, prosecco and lemon verbena.
The best dishes encompass the shared Italian and Israeli passion for freshness and simplicity. Take the delicious kohlrabi. It’s grilled, then plated over romesco, with a splash of olive oil, crumbled Galilean feta and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. The feta appears again, alongside a single charred chile in a pool of tomato purée, to be scooped up by a blistered baton of focaccia.