It seems one can never go wrong by going Italian. The newly opened Pappa's Pizza and Pasta carries itself well in an already well-developed Tel Aviv marketplace. Oren Alkalai, of note for the Shesek and Mishmish, took over the high-ceilinged space just next to the Carmel Market from another Italian eatery, Big Momma. The new name is no coincidence.
What sets Poppa's apart is Alkalai's concerted attempt to create an address for quality Italian food at reasonable prices with a distinct distaste for pretension. That's most apparent when it comes to the establishment's house wine. Though the origin and varieties change on occasion, the NIS 54 per bottle remains the important constant. Served in coffee cups awaiting each diner upon entry, the idea is that a cheap yet surprisingly quaffable table red is always an option.
As for the menu itself, it is straightforward. A small selection of starters includes mozzarella-stuffed fried risotto balls, fried calamari and a homemade antipasti platter. Of course, there is also the focaccia that, along with the in-house pizza dough and pastas, have been crafted by veteran baker Danny Weiss from top-quality ingredients, including Italian semolina flour.
The pastas, as well as the few main-course offerings, provide enough options for any diner. But, when it comes down to it, if you are not after pizza then check your head. The Neapolitan-style pies - with thin and crunchy crusts - are great. Individual pizzas, about a foot in diameter, are priced between NIS 32-42, and may be ordered with toppings that range from feta and eggplant to bacon and mushrooms. For the meat lovers out there, Poppa's is still limited by the supply of pork products in this country, but does its best to work with what there is.
Beyond the food, it is the inviting atmosphere - from the dark wood chairs and tables to the red, plaid paper placemats - that really gives Pappa's a relaxed and laid-back air. Whether on your own or with a friend, it's worthwhile to see what became of Momma.
Poppa's Pizza and Pasta is located at Rehov Hillel Hazaken 12, next to the Paz gas station, and is open seven days a week from noon until 1 a.m. (03) 510-7373
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