19 Cleveland opened in 2018 in lower Manhattan, but the real story begins over thirty years ago in Tel Aviv. Owner Eyal Hen grew up in a small city on the northern coast of Israel called Nahariya. His culinary career began at age ten, in the kitchen of his family’s restaurant. He’s worn every conceivable hat since — busboy, potato peeler, server, bartender, and barista. Eventually, Hen landed in NYC, where he planted a small seed from his homeland that grew to be downtown’s beloved Nish Nush: a casual Mediterranean restaurant with traditional fare.
19 Cleveland expands the spirit of Nish Nush to include the full-spectrum experience of twenty-first-century Tel Aviv: a melting pot with sparkling nightlife. Where better to stake this venture than ever-cosmopolitan Soho? To bring the vision to fruition, Hen pooled his childhood friends, Eyal Asulin and Shai Sudai, along with NYC local, Kfir Cohen, and 19 Cleveland’s master chef, Asaf Maoz.
Maoz’s career spans some of Tel Aviv’s most innovative restaurants, a Michelin-starred eatery in Italy, and a stint in Panama, where he helped launch one of the few establishments for Israeli cuisine.
Modern-day Tel Aviv is a pioneering ground for the children of immigrants. Their parents brought traditions from all over the world, which they continue to honor, develop, and reciprocate. This is why the menu at 19 Cleveland comprises everything from Thai fish to Italian pastas to shakshuka.
Hen says “there is no such thing as Tel Avivian cuisine” — it’s in the making. It reflects a young generation inspired by each other’s differences and totally unafraid to experiment.
“Tel Avivian cuisine” is perfectly at home in New York, then. An ethos evolved beyond food, it’s a celebration of international exchange.