HaPizza sits unassumingly on the corner of Bograshov and Pinsker, where its blue awning covers a few outdoor tables reminiscent of the European sidewalk experience. Scents of garlic and tomato waft on to the street as hot plates of fresh pasta, pizza, and foccacia roll out of the kitchen. On this hipster street lined with window displays of flashy Pharell inspired sneakers and wireless-equipped cafés on each corner, HaPizza is a old world gem. It’s a neighborhood taste of Italy without any flare, letting the quality ingredients and special attention to detail speak for itself.
Four Years ago, Yariv Hadaro and his wife opened HaPizza after a decade of perfecting his pizza recipe. Hapizza began as a small venture with only a tiny kitchen and few customers. Yariv remembers the intimacy of HaPizza’s humble beginnings: “My wife would make a salad, walk around the counter and bring it to the table. I made the pizza. Everyone could see us making the food and then we would serve it.” Yet after just four years and one big renovation, HaPizza has earned a reputation in the area, garnering crowds of loyal customers. Yariv likes it this way, explaining that HaPizza’s neighborhood feel is one of the restaurant’s best qualities. Instead of tourists coming to eat once, HaPizza’s regulars walk around the corner and keep coming back. “It’s like a family here. I know the people,” Yariv admits with pride.
After years of refining his skills, Yariv expanded his expertise in order to give Tel Aviv the Italian flavors it lacked. Quality food comes from quality ingredients, and even though the vendors at the Shuk HaCarmel call him “meshugah,” Yariv continues to pick only the most expensive produce. He selects the best mozzarella in Israel and imports his rich Parmesan cheese straight from Italy. With these ingredients, the restaurant certainly offers gourmet style pizzas, yet Yariv’s favorite is still his “Pizza 70s,” made with oregano and olives, because it reminds him of his childhood. This combination of classic food made with care, echoes Yariv’s reasoning for opening a pizzeria in the first place: “I just love pizza.”
HaPizza also offers homemade pasta. There is something extraordinary about fresh pasta, and every time I am lucky enough to encounter a place that makes pasta on site, I swear to myself I’ll never eat dried noodles again. This time, I tried the pappardelle with asparagus. This dish is a unique HaPizza recipe- fresh noodles soaked in tomato butter and parmesan, garnished with chives. As I took each delicate bite, I savored how the ingredients accented each other with graceful harmony. I wondered if Yariv was hiding a little Italian grandmother in the back somewhere. The ironic beauty behind the flavor of the dish was that, although these were some of the most authentic Italian noodles I’ve tasted, the recipe was also characteristically Israeli. HaPizza knows its loyal customers, and makes real Italian cooking work right here on Bograshov, in the heart of Tel Aviv. I finished lunch with a creamy plateful of luxurious Tiramisu and a hot mug of sharp espresso, a blissful end to a fantastical meal.
I’m left with the feeling that although HaPizza began as a means to fill Israel’s “authentic pizza vacuum,” I am now positive that HaPizza offers one of the most well rounded Italian menus in the area. The dishes are purposeful: a testament to authentic Italian cooking. Keep it simple, stay true to the ingredients, refine the plate and indulge without excess. So, next time you’re passing by- don’t look past the demure blue awning, stop in for a meal and surely you’ll become one of the regulars.