(photo credit: PR)
Every so often, I have a restaurant that I can recommend when people ask me to suggest some place great. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had many good experiences at many good restaurants, but Emilia Romagna has raised the bar a bit higher. It’s classy; the service is friendly and professional; it’s good for romance or business; and the food is outstanding.
Situated in the center of Tel Aviv’s bustling Lilienblum Street, this Italian gem is the brainchild of Tal Dotan and chef Shmulik Ben-Hamo (formerly of Canela and Angelica in Jerusalem).
We had the pleasure of sitting at a large bar-like wooden table, where all our culinary needs were taken care of by the delightful sous chef Sagi Cohen.
For starters, we began with a buratta and cherry tomato salad (NIS 56). Burrata, meaning “buttery” in Italian, is a fresh cheese made from a mix of mozzarella and cream. Once we split it open, the interior was soft, creamy and rich. We paired it with some of the homemade foccacia we got in the beginning. I could easily eat that every single day.
Next up was the red tuna crudo (NIS 46), served with pistachios, chili slices and shallots. Very simple in execution and bold in complementary flavors, this is a mustorder.
The red tuna was melt-in-your mouth goodness. It came with a citrus limoncello vinaigrette that complemented the fish very well. I always appreciate when chefs don’t try to overdo certain dishes that allow the produce to shine.
But let’s talk about the real winner here: the beef tartare. Served with toasted bread, the presentation was outstanding. As we took delicate bites of the perfectly cured beef mixed with everything, I watched my companion’s eyes light up as she realized how delicious tartare could be.
In between we were treated to a variety of cocktails. My dining companion, who is quite the expert on cocktails, gleefully proclaimed that these were some of the best she had tasted.
For the main course, we had a goat cheese-filled agnolotti (NIS 76). I was not disappointed. The little pinched pockets of pasta filled with goat cheese were delicious, and the vegetable cream sauce was rich and wonderful. It was a sweet and playful dish with plenty of contrasting textures and flavors.
Next up was the 300 gr. beef fillet (NIS 38 per 100 gr.), served on a bed of creamy risotto. The fillet, sliced into smaller pieces, was superb and done exactly medium rare. The risotto was one of the best I’ve had. The rice was creamy without being too heavy and dense, and the Parmesan did not overpower the freshness of the vegetables that were mixed in with the risotto. It should come as no surprise that I polished it off; but to see my dining partner’s plate completely empty at the end, too...
well, let’s just say I don’t know where she put it. But it was that good.
After a bit of a breather, it was on to dessert. It consisted of layers of meringue topped with vanilla mascarpone, chocolate truffles and confit berries. Needless to say, we devoured this as well. At that point, you basically had to roll us out of there.
If you’re looking for an uber-quaint Italian experience to whisk you away from your daily worries, then Emilia Romagna may well be the place.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Emilia Romagna Not kosher 21 Lilienblum Street, Tel Aviv (03) 510-4391