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About Hamotzi restaurant chef, Avi Levi

HaMotzi is a kosher restaurant in Jerusalem, opened in 2012 in one of the picturesque alleyways of the Mahane Yehuda Market.  Recently, the restaurant moved to its new and charming location, an ancient building on 113 Jaffa Road.  The restaurant offers a fresh yet authentic culinary approach to the North African cuisine — manifested by fabulous tastes, aromas and colors — while creating a cultural experience of traditional Algerian cuisine combined with local elements.

The restaurant is influenced by chef Avi Levy’s varied character and personal experiences – from his childhood in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood, through various stages in his life and the unique culinary influences he drew from his travels around the world in search of gastronomic inspiration.

All these come to life through each unique decoration on the walls and throughout the restaurant, items that Chef Avi collected during his fascinating journeys. HaMotzi is located in an ancient building, previously used by the Etz Haim (Tree of Life) seminary the past 150 years. The ethnic design, which evidently absorbed strong North African influences, is evident in every corner of the two-story restaurant. As you enter you are welcomed by a sprawling mural on the restaurant’s central wall, which sets the atmosphere. The mural represents Levy’s life and his various culinary influences, including his grandmother. This painting defines the character of the restaurant — the deep connection to Avi’s roots.

Part of the distinctive tone of HaMotzi is defined by “Mama’s Kitchen,” a special corner in which Mrs. Miriam Levy, Avi’s mother, prepares her own famous dishes and desserts. If you look up, you will encounter an antique stove, similar to the one that starred in Levy’s grandmother’s kitchen, and tells a whole life story. The corner is decorated with traditional objects including copper pots, pans, kettles and authentic, hundreds of years old utensils that Levy procured during his travels to Morocco.

The menu that Levy presents in HaMotzi combines his childhood memories of Jerusalem, his cultural and culinary roots from the Maghreb region and his professional growth as a chef. Famous iconic dishes include cigars stuffed with sweetbread and asado; pastille, a chicken, almond and saffron pastry; and bullette, a pan of crispy Algerian meatballs with cabbage and steamed onions.

A host of new dishes were added to represent Chef Avi’s gastronomic style. Among the new dishes are an Algerian porterhouse burrito; barbunya (red mullet) with Moroccan chips; oxtail; goose liver sfinge (Algerian doughnut); spicy, slow cooked beef cheeks; and surprising new desserts. One of the most popular dishes is an appetizer that includes a salad tray and a Jerusalem Old City pretzel, made fresh on the spot, that will transport any Israeli down memory lane in the Old City.
Beyond the luxurious and authentic restaurant seating that can accommodate a large number of diners, HaMotzi offers a separate floor for private, business and family events.