El Marsa restaurant, located in the port of Acre, is a successful combination between new and old: on the one hand the restaurant is located in an ancient building built in the year 1210 and used as an Ottoman customs house and on the other hand it conveys a modern atmosphere.
The name El Marsa means ‘the marina’, and indeed, the beautiful new restaurant is located in the marina of the port of Acre. Its entire façade, from top to bottom, is built of glass bricks that enable a view to the Acre port and the fishermen’s boats, while its rear wall is a part of the old building.
The El Marsa is a chef restaurant owned by Chef Alla Moussa and his partner and childhood friend Marouan Sawaid. Alla’s culinary career began at the age of 14 as a dishwasher at the Uri Buri restaurant, where, as he recalls, his love for fish and seafood first ignited. He continued his education at the ‘Dan Gourmet’ cooking school in Haifa. Immediately following the completion of his studies he began working as sous chef in the prestigious Royal Beach hotel in Eilat. He went on to work as sous chef of the esteemed chef Daniel Zach at the Carmela Banahala restaurant in Tel Aviv, and from there took off to Stockholm and worked in three Michelin-star decorated restaurants: 12F, Opera Kaillaern (opera basement) and La Rouge.
In 2010 he returned to Israel and decided to realize a childhood dream and open a restaurant with his friend, Marouan Sawaid, who left his occupation of the time in the field of sociology. The two friends found a place at the Acre port on the water. They hired the services of the designer Mira Saba; who designed the restaurant in a way that, due to the gigantic glass windows, makes the sea and the port seem to enter the restaurant, whose interior décor conveys a simple, pleasant atmosphere.
The next stage was to implement the revolutionary idea for which Alla came back to Israel: teach the residents of Acre and of the North of Israel that Arabic food does not have to be “stuck”, as he said, “in the eighties, and that Arabic food is more than just canned salads and fried fish. I decided to establish an entirely different restaurant”, says Alla, “We knew we were taking a risk but we decided to go with something unique that will combine Eastern and Western styles and will impart a different culture of Arabic food. I use fresh, healthy ingredients from the area, and my goal is to introduce new food and refresh the Arabic restaurant business in the North of Israel in general and in Acre in particular”.
And indeed, El Marsa’s diverse menu offers: veal Carpaccio next to “baladi” eggplant, pickled Anchovies, creamed mussels, Coquilles Saint Jack alongside Tabouleh and Fatoush salads and herbs.
Calamari is served here on a bed of Humus and Tahini. El Marsa’s menu is rich and diversified. For diners who come here for first time the chef recommends to get acquainted with the restaurant by ordering a tasting meal that includes pickled Tuna, mussels creamed in parmesan, stuffed sardines, sirloin roll, crispy calamari, root vegetable gratin in cream sauce and gorgonzola shrimps in olive oil.
The menu also offers fresh fish from Acre fishermen’s daily catch, seafood and meat dishes as well as finger-licking desserts.