viola 88 298.
(photo credit: Viva Sarah Press)
33 Sheinkin Street, Givatayim,
(03) 571-4901 (Cafe Viola)
49 Sheinkin Street, Givatayim,
(03) 732-0223 (Viola Patisserie)
Not Kosher, open on Shabbat
When Danny and Viola Goren decided to open their first cafe in Givatayim, almost nine years ago, residents were astounded and doubtful as to whether such a place could survive in the area.
After all, Rehov Sheinkin in Givatayim back then was not anything like its hip counterpart in Tel Aviv. But Cafe Viola quickly became a hit and it wasn't long before the owners opened Viola Patisserie, a smaller version of the original cafe that focused on desserts. Today, both Viola coffee shops are legendary and the owners are seen as the architects of Givatayim Sheinkin's transformation into the trendier street it is today.
When I moved into the area some two years ago, I was happily introduced to the Viola cafes. Almost immediately, Viola Patisserie - the smaller of the two coffee shops - became "my" cafe. The fact that Viola Goren is one of the leading patisserie chefs in the country could very well be one of the explanations for this.
Another reason is that it is within walking distance of my apartment, which is situated in a parking-challenged district. (Once you find a parking spot, you would hardly want to vacate it just to drink coffee.) Viola Patisserie is a small coffee shop on the corner of the busy section of Rehov Sheinkin, at the corner of Rehov Sirkin. In addition to Viola, there's a renowned bakery on this corner, Ovad's famous Sabich eatery, and a couple of months ago, a sushi place took root here too.
This year the Viola Patisserie underwent two significant changes: it expanded its menu and opened on Shabbat. The list of eating options now includes everything from pasta to sandwiches to salads and beyond. The Viola breakfast (eggs, salads, cheeses, condiments, and, of course, high-quality coffee) is celebrated, and even draws Tel Aviv residents (who have ample cafe choices) to the suburbs. Other famed menu items include the house salad (goat's cheese, home-made croutons, spinach, pumpkin seeds, tomato), the camembert sandwich (with roasted peppers and basil), and of course the delectable desserts.
Whereas it used to be easy to pop down for a coffee and snack, today the haunt has become so well-known that I often find myself relegated to one of the peripheral tables for lack of room.
Patrons have the option of indoor and outdoor seating. Sitting outside can get noisy, though it is also a fun place to people watch. Inside, Viola Patisserie has an old-fashioned-meets-retro design. There's an aged piano at one end of the cafe, a glass display featuring all the delicious pastries at the center, and a table with all the cookie options at the other end.
Service is hit and miss here, sometimes superb and at other times sluggish. Whereas the Cafe Viola down the road to me is sprawling, Viola Patisserie has just two dozen tables inside and out and offers a more intimate atmosphere. (Actually, because of its ambience, Viola Patisserie has become one of the top local blind-date venues.)
Patrons at both Violas are a mixed lot and include families, golden oldies, 20-30-somethings, and a trickle of teens. Cafe Viola is a good choice for those who like a rowdy coffee shop; Viola Patisserie is for those looking for a more peaceful, relaxing bite to eat. n