Thought for food

With nearly faultless food and knowledgeable wait staff, Mel & Michelle will please your palate.

By JASON MESKIN
February 3, 2012 17:59
2 minute read.
Hatzela Hashminit Restaurant

Italian Restaurant 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

If you’re looking for romance, you should try Mel & Michelle, a small, smart Italian restaurant on Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv. The dim lights, candles, lovely decor and music all contribute to the special atmosphere of this place.

The restaurant’s interior design – wooden floor, old-fashioned wallpaper and a few Renaissance-style oil paintings – adds to the appearance of a family-owned eatery in Florence or Rome. Run by chef Nir Wayman, Mel & Michelle is one of the finest options in town for an Italian dinner with a Mediterranean twist.

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When we arrived at the restaurant, we got a place at the bar and received the barman's full attention. It was nice to be able to peek into the kitchen from where we sat and see the chef and sous-chefs at work. The menu offers homemade pasta, meat and seafood.

Upon entry we were served some simple but satisfying homemade bread, lightly toasted and accompanied by olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as a delicious homemade pesto with lightly crumbled blue cheese. For starters, we ordered the Roman artichokes with polenta and Piedmontese truffle oil (NIS 58) and an interesting artichoke ravioli with garlic butter, yogurt, cheese and fresh za’atar (NIS 57/82), both executed beautifully enough to justify the prices. We also tried the endive salad (NIS 52), which was equally tasty. Endive is a notoriously difficult vegetable for those unfamiliar with it. Though fragile in appearance, it has a rather bitter taste. Here, the endive was finely sliced and served in a mound with gorgonzola cheese and candied cashew that seemed to mellow the bitterness without overwhelming it.

Seemingly a lot of food at this point, it was too tasty to notice and our stomachs begged for more. We obliged. Next up was Parisian gnocchi lightly crusted with Parmesan and garlic served with a black truffle bechamel sauce (NIS 57/82). The dish was delicious, although a bit too heavy for us to finish it all For a main course, we tried the panfried gray mullet with rissoto, Israeli olive oil and chilled yogurt (NIS 102).

It was exquisite in flavor and really enjoyable in its simplicity and freshness. The dish was prepared with much attention to detail, with the goal to surprise and please.

For dessert we shared the crepe with mascarpone cream and fresh strawberries (NIS 36) and a wonderfully creamy dark and white chocolate ganache. Both were especially good.

If you’re looking for an uber-quaint Italian experience to whisk you away from your daily worries, then Mel & Michelle may well be the place The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Mel & Michelle
Not kosher
155 Ben-Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv
(03) 529-3232.

Open in the evenings only.


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