After his casual Israeli-influenced Mediterranean restaurant Tel Aviv lost its kosher certification in December, Michael Ginor had some serious decisions to make. Would he try to get the certifying organization, the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, to reconsider his case? Would he seek the certification of another supervising body? Would he continue as a noncertified “kosher-style” restaurant that eschews pork, shellfish and dairy? Or would he just open a nonkosher restaurant in the same space?
Ginor decided to go the nonkosher route. Over the past few months he has slowly been converting Tel Aviv into Anise, whose menu is similar but includes such previously prohibited items as cheese, shellfish, pork and foie gras (Ginor is also co-owner of Hudson Valley Foie Gras).
Anise’s kitchen is run by Jessica Cecere, who had been sous chef at Ginor’s other Great Neck restaurant, Lola. According to Ginor, the restaurant is still a work in progress; he expects to have a new menu in place by the end of next week.
So far, though, so good. On a recent visit, we were impressed by virtually everything we ate: grilled branzino, which came with a mustard sauce, grilled fennel and squash; grilled shrimp with an amazing “rosemary rice” mound crowned with pistachio nuts; salmon tartare with herb salad and bulghur; tender baby octopus; excellent lamb kebab; and an old Tel Aviv favorite, cauliflower with tahini dressing.
Ginor estimated that about 90 percent of Tel Aviv's patrons were kosher, so he knows that it may take a while to build up a new clientele. But, he said, "I am committed to making Anise work as a nonkosher restaurant."
Anise is at 613 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, 516-466-6136.