The bistro’s name comprises a wealth of delightful ideas and contexts. On the one hand, “Saviv” translates from Yiddish “סביב” as “environment” or “around.” On the other, it combines two names that are of great importance to our Italian head chef, Antonio Fresa – the name of his beautiful daughter Sarah and the name of the renowned Israeli city of Tel Aviv. That makes Saviv a place where you’ll find a warm atmosphere – the Dolce Vita in combination with Israeli hospitality.
The bistro is in the very center of St. Petersburg, at 9 Bolshaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa, in the old Sleptsov mansion, built in the Moderne style – floor to ceiling windows, sumptuous vintage chandeliers, aged woods, a marble fountain and an antique, black piano.
Antonio Fresa shared the recipes for three dishes: hummus, shakshuka and a fresh salad with persimmons. Today is, in fact, International Hummus Day – a great reason to try making it yourself!
There’s good reason to come here for breakfast – it’s filling, high-calorie (that’s allowed in the morning, you’ve got a lot of exhibitions and museums to walk round during the rest of the day). Lovers of hearty eating order the trademark shakshuka, which is made in keeping with all the canonical rules, with za’tar and a tomato and peppers sauce, and is stewed for a long period. There are lighter options – smoothie bowls with quinoa and granola, or baked ricotta pudding with fruit or custard. For dessert, order the “babka” – a delicate bun with a chocolate filling.
The trademark dish at the Israeli bistro SAVIV is the Israeli “shakshuka”, to which you can add, if you wish, chanterelle mushrooms, when in season, and zucchini flowers. For breakfast you can order eggs benedict with red caviar or bacon made with marbled beef and fried eggs with black truffles. Every night, in time for breakfast the next morning, fresh pitta and plaited Israeli challah are baked – the latter is served with fried eggs, avocado and cheese. For lovers of sweet breakfasts, as well as croissants with ricotta and berries or chocolate with hazelnuts, there are veggie smoothie bowls with quinoa and granola, or whipped or baked ricotta with seasonal berries and fruits.
The Middle-Eastern café Saviv has brought back its summer hit from last year – a salad of Baku tomatoes with pumpkin seeds and scallions, seasoned with unrefined sunflower seed oil. If you don’t think that’s enough, take the baked peppers with goat’s cheese mousse, or the summer salad with salted lemons and fresh cheese.
Saviv’s concept is built around traditional Jewish cuisine. The menu is divided into three sections: cold starters, “in pitta” or “without pitta.” There’s a salad with black cherries and coriander, baked cauliflower, pitta with lamb and other specialties. The emphasis in the wine list is on biodynamic and organic wines.
The cauliflower here is baked whole with breadcrumbs sprinkled over the top, the lemons are salted in barrels, there is a salad featuring persimmons, and steak served in pitta bread. In the half year since the Israeli bistro Saviv has opened the menu has been fundamentally revised and developed, a friendly crowd of regular guests has developed, and the establishment itself has become such an intrinsic part of the surrounding environment that it’s almost as if it has always been here.
The menu offers varied starters: baked peppers with goat’s cheese and pine nuts or tuna with fennel and green olives, hummus or carpaccio. You can order baked lamb, spicy chraime fish, cauliflower and dishes served in freshly baked pitta - vegetable, fish or meat.
Begin with a light starter – fruits that are in season with salted lemons and fresh cheese. At the beginning of August, juicy peaches are served with olive oil, fragrant spices and chili peppers supplied directed from Israel. The standard classics are on offer – hummus, sabich and baked aubergines. All of the hot dishes can be served in fresh pitta bread or alone. We recommend the second option. Try chraime, for example – fish stewed in a spicy tomato sauce with vegetables, fresh herbs and spices, served on a frying pan. Pitta is ideal for scooping up this spicy delight.
Born in Puglia, the Italian Peninsula’s most southerly region. Fresa regards his second homeland as being San Giovanni Valdarno, a small town in the heart of Tuscany to which his family moved when he was twelve years old, and where, to a large extent, his tastes were formed.
Antonio has been working in kitchens since the age of 14, and from the age of 17, having left his hometown, he has worked in numerous restaurants in Italy and abroad.
“I’ve never stopped making Italian dishes, but four years ago I visited Israel for the first time with my family. The local market was my real discovery there – I tried the food at several stalls and simply fell in love with Levantine cuisine. For me, as a chef, it’s an incredibly fertile base for the creation of a mixture of two different cultures and cuisines: Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. The similarity with Italy lies in the fact that the foundation is the quality of the ingredients, from the vegetables all the way through to the seafood. So, when I came back to Petersburg I came up with the idea for SAVIV and my own take on Levantine cuisine with an Italian twist.”