Nestled in a quiet neighborhood, away from the noise and bustle of Ra'anana's city center, is a charming oasis of excellent food and a warm atmosphere. Located in the heart of the Golan Center, on the corner of Ahuza and Hagdud Ha'ivri streets, Cafe In features an inviting wooden deck framed by tall palm trees and flowering bushes where patrons can enjoy their meals, shaded from the sun by large white umbrellas.
The inside of the restaurant has recently been expanded to seat 70 people on comfortable wooden furniture that makes you feel at home. This is exactly the atmosphere that owners Arik and Tali Levin want to create.
"This is a second home to many of our customers. We love what we do and are proud to serve our customers the best quality at reasonable prices. We have a strong, loyal following and think of our customers as our friends. As a matter of fact, this is how the idea of the VIP club originated. It was a suggestion from our customers. We liked the idea, so now we offer our regular customers a card that entitles them to a 10% discount every time they eat here, for everyone in their group, whether it's two people or 20. In addition, each VIP family member gets a birthday dinner on the house. And, like with good friends, we keep in touch, whether it is to send them a Shana Tova card or offer them special deals," says Arik Levin.
The menu, in Hebrew and English, offers a wide choice of foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late-night snacks to the cafe's clientele, which is largely English speaking.
There are four special breakfast menus: an Israeli breakfast; a Continental breakfast; a Mediterranean breakfast; and a Health breakfast. The breakfast menu is available any time of the day. And don't be afraid to ask for substitutions, as the customer is king at Cafe In.
The cafe's main dishes include a variety of pastas served with a selection of sauces. Pizzas are made in an oven brought over especially from Italy because the Italian stone enables the oven to reach the extremely high temperatures needed to make a perfect Neapolitan pizza with its thin, crispy crust. Toppings include potatoes and eggs, Bulgarian cheese with lots of garlic, as well as the traditional favorites.
Other menu favorites include a variety of quiches (sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, cheese, and onion) and a wide array of salads that include such ingredients as pesto, salmon, haloumi cheese, Roquefort, and pears. Toasted sandwiches can include what is written on the menu or anything that Arik decides to build. A favorite is the Champagne, served on giabetta. It consists of pesto, melted cheese, mushrooms, sauteed onions, and cherry tomatoes.
A good deal is the business lunch, which is served for one (NIS 38) or for two (NIS 75).
In the European tradition, Cafe In offers a large variety of coffees, both regular and decaffeinated, as well as iced coffee and Cafe Barad. There are also fresh fruit shakes that are either milk or water based.
Late-night diners can be seen talking unhurriedly enjoying delicious freshly made cakes or spectacular ice cream creations from the dessert menu.
Cafe In came about totally by chance. Levin always liked being in the kitchen. After the army, he traveled the world and wherever he went he worked in kitchens and restaurants. Coming home to Tel Aviv, he wasn't sure what to do. Then friends told him about a cafe that was available in Ra'anana.
"It was purely by accident that I came here," says Levin. "There was always a cafe here but it had changed hands many times. The last one had closed, leaving the place empty. It was a wonderful opportunity, and we have been here now for nine years. We were recently able to expand when one of the adjacent stores closed," he says.
"My goal is not to be just another coffee house. I want my customers to feel like this is their second home."
And they do.
For example Rita Tasini, originally from New York, is a neighborhood resident and frequent customer. She appreciates the cafe's convivial, pleasant service, as well as the excellent soups and salads.
"This is a family-run business. My mother, Malka, is in the kitchen and even my sister-in-law works here. Our waitresses stay with us for several years, and we feel they are an important part of our business. We invest heavily in training them. We have regular staff meetings and workshops to make them more professional," he says.
"It's all about quality. Quality is not just the food, but the service, the atmosphere, everything. We want our customers to feel that they have received value for the money they are spending here, so we offer generous portions, good service, and above all a smile. We buy only the freshest ingredients - even our pickles are homemade. And we offer our customers healthy choices. We are updating our new menu, adding healthier choices - more pasta dishes, fruit salads, and new soups," he says.
"Even though we may not be making a fortune, I get so much satisfaction when I see customers coming not only from all over Israel but from all over the world. We have many customers who come from South Africa, England, or as far away as India, who make Cafe In their first stop whenever they come to visit."
If you're planning a party, the VIP room upstairs holds up to 50 guests. It is suitable for every special occasion, or even a party for no reason at all. Every Wednesday morning at 8:30, the VIP room hosts Rabbi Stewart Weiss, who gives a class in Jewish learning based on biblical stories while the patrons enjoy a buffet breakfast (NIS 20).
"The greatest satisfaction I get," says Levin, "is to see the same customers come back with their friends."
Cafe In is open Sunday to Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Friday til 4:30 p.m. and after Shabbat til 2 a.m. Closed on Shabbat.
The restaurant is wheelchair friendly.
Kashrut Rabbanut Ra'anana