JERUSALEM -- Under the Old City's streets there is evidence of an
earlier city, the one ruled by the Roman Empire, where diners now
can eat in ancient style and pilgrims can stop for a meaningful
As was the Roman way, the Jerusalem of 2,000 years ago was
marked by two major thoroughfares, one dividing the metropolis east
from west and the other north from south. One of these main
streets, called the Cardo, was discovered after Israel took
possession of the Old City in 1967 and it has been unearthed by
archaeologists and restored.
The Cardo is now under what is called the Jewish Quarter of the
Old City of Jerusalem. Visitors walk on Italian marble slabs put in
place by Roman construction crews who were building avenues lined
with great pillars. The columns marked off areas that were used as
market stalls, and today shops and restaurants have taken their
One eatery in particular offers a return to Caesarean meals.
According to Shmuel Mantinband, owner of the Old City's Cardo
Culinaria (he likes to be called Caesar), half a million customers
were served in the Roman-style restaurant's first nine years, and
another half-million are expected to arrive in the two years
marking the turn of the millennium.
To meet budgetary concerns, the Culinaria is preparing a
"Pilgrim" value menu for groups and large families. "For us," said
Imam Tibi, an Arab resident of east Jerusalem and manager of the
Cardo Culinaria, "the millennium has already started" with plans to
give Christians a dining experience similar to what it might have
been in Jesus' day.
The menu is based on the recipes of the Roman Caesar's chef
Apicius, whose writings are considered to be the basis for modern
cooking. "We go to great lengths to ensure that the ingredients
used at the Cardo are almost exclusively limited to what was
available in Judea 2,000 years ago," said Mantinband.
Prices are quoted at net to agents based on a group of 15 or
more. Cake, soft drinks and beer are available upon request.
Cartoons of Romans in urgent need point the way to the
lavatorium, and the vomitorium is equipped with requisite
The restaurant, which is kosher, is open daily from 11:30 a.m.
to 11:30 p.m. except for the Jewish Sabbath.
Cardo Culinaria, Address: 21 Habad St., Jerusalem, Israel 97500.
Phone: (011) 972-2 626-4155. Fax: (011) 972-2 628-4238. E-mail: [email protected]