New Jaffa has materialised in the old Pizza Capers Collingwood site with a late contender for Melbourne's best sandwich of 2018. Behold the fricassee sandwich from Tunisia, its sugarless doughnut bun pan-fried, smeared with house-made harissa and piled with tuna, egg and boiled potato chunks, before being bombarded with capers, sliced black olives and preserved lemon.
With Tunisian and Moroccan heritage, the fricassee sandwich is what chef-owner Moshe Ittah grew up eating in Israel while we nibbled Vegemite on Tip Top.
Ittah moved to Melbourne 14 years ago, chasing the dream of becoming a chef, and most recently led the kitchen at Serotonin cafe in Burnley. New Jaffa, his first venue, is in its second week of operation. He's still working on the white-tiled interior, although he's installed a black rope feature referencing the port city of Old Jaffa.
He's also prettying up the courtyard, with its bulbous banana trees and Moroccan-tiled tables seating 12.
He's serving hummus plates; four different pitas including sabich (an Israeli sandwich filled with eggplant, egg, pickles and salad), falafel, arayes (lamb cooked inside pita) and the signature fricassee, each for $12 or less; and four mains such as fish of the day and lamb knafeh, like a Middle Eastern meat pie, and a dessert knafeh made with vermicelli-like kadaif noodles, ricotta, halva, rosewater syrup and pistachios.
Takeaway is available but Ittah wants people to sit together at the communal tables, as they do in the Middle East. And until the liquor licence arrives, you can drink mint tea with sugar cubes – just like they do in Old Jaffa.
Open Wed-Fri 11.30am-4pm, 5-9.30pm; Sat 11am-4pm, 5-10pm; Sun 11am-4.30pm.
32 Stanley Street, Collingwood, 03 9419 9224