The cannelloni della casa at Tito.
(photo credit: SARIT GOFFEN)
The Benedict chain is best known for its all-day breakfast restaurants, but the group also boasts one Italian eatery, located in an urban shopping mall in Givatayim. When Tito opened, just over a year ago, it introduced a new concept to Israel: family-style dining as popularized by Italian-American restaurants in the US.
The restaurant has flourished in the meantime, thanks to good, hearty food and friendly professional service. It also helped that management was smart enough to fine-tune its original concept and adapt the menu in accordance with customers’ preferences.
For starters, the sizes of the dishes on the menu have become more flexible. In the beginning, all orders were designed for two to four (or more) people to share; now most dishes can be ordered as half-portions as well, for one to two people.
Tito’s specialty cocktails also used to be mixed for three to four people to share, but the restaurant’s modification here has been a bit more drastic: They have been eliminated altogether.
There is an adequate bar for ordering chasers or classic cocktails and reasonably priced house wines – one red and one white, which the wait staff will allow you to taste before deciding to order. There are also imported and domestic beers, as well as French wines available by the glass and bottle.
The food menu has been streamlined somewhat, but there is still plenty of variety: seven starters, four side dishes, four salads, six pizzas, and an expanded pasta category that features 13 entries. (Pastas are made fresh daily from Italian flour and egg yolks; egg-free and gluten-free pastas are available upon request.) The seven main courses are listed in a section called Tito Classics.
In fact, some of the dishes among the starters and side dishes have become classics of sorts, especially the testa parmigiana – a giant head of cauliflower, coated in breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, roasted to a golden brown and served with a truffle-bechamel sauce; and the arancini – crispy fried rice balls with gooey centers of rich, cheesy filling (they also come in a delicious seafood version).
A newer starter is the involtini di ricotta e zucchini (NIS 41/67) – baked eggplant slices brushed with olive oil and stuffed with ricotta cheese, grilled zucchini and onion cubes, served in tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella. The eggplant rolls made for a beautiful presentation, but unfortunately the dish was undercooked.
The panzanella salad (NIS 67), meanwhile, obviously required no cooking. The combination of oversized, crunchy croutons and juicy multicolored cherry tomatoes, mixed with red onion, celery and Kalamata olives and tossed in a red wine vinaigrette, resulted in an excellent cold dish – and one that was large enough for four people to share.
Instead of focaccia, we ordered the plain pizza Margherita (NIS 68) – just tomato sauce and cheese, decorated with a basil leaf. The square pizza with fluffy edges and thin crust yielded 10 tasty slices. As my dinner companions, who hail from Italy, noted, “It is an American pizza, but good.”
The only pasta dish listed in the Tito Classics section was the cannelloni de la casa (NIS 118) – a long tube filled with hunter’s stew and drenched in an exquisite cream and Parmesan sauce, accented with nutmeg. The exceptional sauce coupled with the meaty filling threatened to overwhelm the strudel-thin pasta; next time, I will try the spinach and ricotta variation.
One may also eat well here without relying on the usual Italian carbs. The fresh salmon (NIS 89/174), gently seasoned in a sauce of white wine, butter, thyme and sage, then baked in a stone oven and served with seasonal green vegetables, was moist and flavorful.
While the English food menu was separate from the Hebrew one, the dessert menu existed in Hebrew only. There were six options (NIS 46/120), not all of them Italian in origin. Taken from the restaurant’s American pedigree was a rare treat in Israel: red velvet cake. Tito’s version, which featured as much icing and cream filling as soft red cake, was on the sweet side but definitely a nice change of pace.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Tito. Not kosher. Azrieli Mall, Derekh Rabin 53, Givatayim. Tel. (03) 631-7080
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