“Kafraya is the name of a pretty Lebanese village that specializes in manufacturing Arak and wine” says Saib Diab, the owner and manager of this restaurant in Tamra. “I named the restaurant after the village even though we do not serve alcohol here.”
Saib defines the restaurant that was established in the beginning of 2012, as ‘Lebanese with an Italian Touch’. On the one hand returning to Grandma’s recipes with Arabic salad, Tabouleh and Fatouche, and on the other hand offering plenty of pasta and creamed dishes. In respect of quality, I can tell you that we are the only restaurant from which women take Tabuleh home”. At Kafraya visitors may find a variety of meat and fish dishes (Salmon, Trout and Dennis), alongside lighter meals such as toasts and omelets. The restaurant also offers their homemade humus. According to Saib the restaurant does not specialize in one specific dish (even though their veal fillet dish has made a good name for itself) but rather in the quality and freshness of its raw materials: “the secret of good cooking is in the composition of quality raw materials.”
The restaurant itself conveys meticulous care up to the very last detail: a veranda, a main hall, VIP room, an impressive counter with a window to a refrigerator containing delicious cakes, an accessorized kitchen and fashionable high standard rest rooms, accessible to the disabled. All these are wrapped in Kefraya by a line of black and white photos portraying Bardot, Loren, Sharif, Bergman, Bogart and other milestones of classic cinema.
Meticulous care and punctuation? Movie stars? Lebanese food with a European touch? How do all these reconcile one must wonder. The answer is: Saib Diab. The film theater that used to work in Tamra from the 1950’s to the 1970’s belonged to his father. “I was born into the film theater. The way I see it, the movie ‘Cinema Paradiso’ is a recreation of my entire childhood.” And just like the boy in that movie, Saib also left his childhood region for a long period of time: “When I grew up, I ended up in Switzerland where I lived for more than 15 years. Many of the techniques used at the restaurant today I brought back from there – primarily a meat smoking method unique to the rural Swiss that preserves the meat’s fresh taste and turns it particularly soft.”
In spite of the short time that elapsed since this restaurant was established, many Tel-Aviv residents have already learned to integrate the Kafraya in their visit to the North. And justly so.