Tuesday, November 15, 2011


From the I dream of Pizza Blog
Just inside Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, down the second alley on the left, an unassuming sign leads you to a hole in the wall called Green Door Pizza. We discovered this gem in 1975, when we were living in Nive Yaacov. Neither of us can remember exactly how we originally found this place, but every visit to Jerusalem, we find ourselves down this alley, checking to see if Abu Ali, the man with the large hands, that made us the most delicious pizza so many years ago is still alive and still making pizza.

It seemed to us in 1975, that Abu Ali was at least 90 years old. Yet each time we return, he is still alive, doing what he always did — stoking his wood fire pizza oven, while preparing his specialty pizzas.

From the I dream of Pizza Blog

The walls, as always are black with soot. As we entered, he was adding the wooden leg of a chair to his pizza oven and watching the existing embers ignite the new piece fuel. We announced as we do each time we come, that we have been coming back for over 30 years to eat his pizza. "Welcome" he greeted us as always, "Meat or no meat?"

Under a long narrow plank, in a metal tray, are pre-prepared pizza shells that resemble pie crusts. A flat bottom with raised sides ready to be filled with his special ingredients. He set to work immediately on our vegetarian pizza. The ingredients have not changed over all of the years we have been coming here. First there are two triangle cheeses, carefully unwrapped and smeared over the bottom of the crust. Next comes the tomato paste, and then the key ingredient — two eggs cracked over the cheese and paste mixture. A sprinkle of spices, and the pie is placed on a wooden pizza spatula, and disappears deep into the mouth of the red hot oven.

In the mean time, Abu Ali calls to his partner to break up some additional pieces of wood (misc building scraps), runs his utensils under water, moves the hot coals around and checks our pizza. Within minutes, the eggs/tomato/cheese filling is bubbling and the crust is browned and crispy. As always, the pizza comes out of the oven burning hot. And as always, Abu Ali picks the pizza up in his large hands and transfers it from the wooden spatula to the table. But how does he do it with out burning his hands? We have never figured this out!

The pie is cut in four pieces with a large knife, and is way too hot to touch when it is placed in front of us on a piece of wax paper. After a few minutes, we dig in and enjoy this treat as much as every other time we have been here. Clearly, the place and this man, add to the unique flavour of the experience. "Surely", we both think to ourselves "he is by now at least 90 ... ". But we think this each time we come, and each time, he is still here, looking the same age!

"Thank you" he says to us in Hebrew after we have eaten the last bite and settled our bill. "You are welcome any time!"

Satiated, we take our usual walk from Damascus Gate to Jaffa Gate taking in the sights, sounds and aromas of the Old City.

From Jaffa Gate we board the new rapid transit line for a ride from the Old City to Mt Hertzl. The train is sparkling new and free at this point so it is bustling with people commuting through the different neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.

On our way back, we stop at Machane Yehuda Market in the New City. Another sensory experience, not to be missed. This time we purchase nuts, fruit savory pastry and fruit juices to keep us going for the rest of the day.

By the time we arrive back at the Jerusalem Hostel in Zion Square, we are almost bursting from all of the delicious market food we have eaten — and we still have more to eat in our room! Definitely not a low calorie city!


  1. Yum!! Wish we were there with you, experiencing all of the Jerusalem sights, sounds, smells and TASTES. Have fun in Beersheva...

  2. Thanks for the fabulous tour. BUT...are you saying that you didn't buy halva?!!

  3. Great photos and moving, heartfelt descriptions of your reunion with Abu Ali - you two really know how to live! xo

  4. I wish we could have met up! Love these updates. Can't wait to get to jerusalem and find your pizza guy. I have a ful guy in the armenian quarter next to a old photographs shop. I just can't get enough of that place. Loved your tales of anapurna. my husband and I did the around trek and had our fill of altitude sickness and momos. amazing experience. you guys are troopers!