On top of Jerusalem’s Mamilla Hotel you are stuck between two worlds. While you are in the chic confines of the Mamilla pedestrian mall that’s lined with luxury shops and cafés, just below, Jerusalem’s ancient Old City beckons.
The normal chaos on the ground of tour groups and pilgrims is muted up above where the quiet beauty of the ancient structures leads you to contemplate the history surrounding you.
This hotel rooftop is probably one of the most beautiful places you can have a meal in a city not lacking in atmospheric dining rooms.
With tourists gone from the city indefinitely, the view went wasted, even on the locals for the last year or so. The Mamilla Rooftop Restaurant only recently got back to work.
“Working for many years in the restaurant and hotel industry I never imagined that we would be in the situation that we are in now,” reflected Simone Shapiro, who has been the chef at the restaurant for six years.
Shapiro, a New York native who was used to the insane work hours that chefs know intimately, didn’t quite know what to do with her idle hands.
Just like that, she changed from making dishes like beef tartare with quail egg and bone marrow, to more homey menu items like ras-el-hanout roast chicken, and meatballs in an Italian-style red sauce.
“I try to find the silver lining in every difficult situation,” she said, explaining how she and her boyfriend, who is also a chef at the hotel, decided to create a Shabbat menu together.”
“We tested and created many new dishes in our home kitchen and created a menu that we would deliver to people’s doorstep before Shabbat. We turned our one-bedroom apartment into a catering hall and had a blast while doing it.”
Now it’s a relief for Shapiro and her kitchen staff to be back to work in an official capacity.
“I am very excited to be creating new menu items to please the guests. We have to continue to live, cook and persevere through these difficult times,” she says, ever the optimist.
“Of course, we won’t be at the same capacity,” she continues. “No one will, not until the world starts to heal itself from this pandemic. Although I do see a light at the end of the tunnel.”