The number five is kind of a big deal at 5555 Morningside Drive, the address for modern-Israeli restaurant Hamsa
—which, translated in Arabic, means five. Hamsa is also known as an ancient Islamic and Jewish symbol for the Fatima hand, which symbolizes protection, health and good fortune.
It’s no coincidence that co-founder and CEO Itai Ben Eli decided to open Hamsa in 2022 in the fifth month of the year. The opening came two years after Ben Eli originally leased the space, right before a global pandemic shut down businesses in 2020.
“It’s all a blessing. I believe that we opened at the right time,” Ben Eli said.
What’s special about it?
Step into the restaurant, and the ambiance, designed by Ben Eli’s wife, takes diners to an upscale European dining room with colorful interior and modern furniture.
Dining at Hamsa, Ben Eli said, means a variety of items on a jam-packed table where different flavors, textures and temperatures come together. Cocktails and wine options have a Middle Eastern twist if they’re not originally sourced from the region. He stressed it’s not only about what food is being served at Hamsa, but also how food is eaten: family style.
Why we love it
Ben Eli said the term “Israeli cuisine” is broad.
“Israel has so many different nationalities and types of cuisine in one melting pot,” he said.
Guests can expect food flavors and techniques inspired from the Middle East’s Levant region, which includes Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Northern Africa. Ingredients used in many menu items include olive oil, chickpeas and many spices as well as Turkish, Greek and Eastern European influences.
“It’s really all across the Mediterranean,” Ben Eli said.
What’s on the menu
Items vary across dinner and lunch menus. For both lunch and dinner, diners can pick