Italian in name only: new beachfront restaurant in Herzliya

The one-page food menu does not reflect what we thought we’d see in a restaurant whose name is in the Italian language (meaning “the neighborhood brasserie”).

Beachfront Brasserie del Borgo offers an eclectic menu (photo credit: ASAF CARLA)
Beachfront Brasserie del Borgo offers an eclectic menu
(photo credit: ASAF CARLA)
 The voice that answered the phone said, “Bar, Bakery and Brasserie del Borgo,” so we were not surprised to find a place that looked like a café when we entered. The atmosphere and furnishings are informal, while an alfresco patio area overlooks the beach in Herzliya.

We were given menus in English when we sat down, which we expected in this upscale neighborhood populated by diplomats. Upon closer inspection of the cocktail menu, however, we discovered that while the names of the cocktails were in English, the ingredients in the descriptions were entirely in Hebrew. As if this were not frustrating enough, the waiter who said he would explain everything was less than proficient in English.

The menu lists seven specialty cocktails (NIS 42-46), plus seven under the heading of Classic (NIS 38-54), although many of these were not familiar to us at all. Two virgin mocktails (NIS 38) closed out the list. The wine list appears as a seeming afterthought on the alcohol menu, featuring just a handful of reds and whites – all available by the glass as well as the bottle – about the same as the number of brands of beer.

The one-page food menu does not reflect what we thought we’d see in a restaurant whose name is in the Italian language (meaning “the neighborhood brasserie”).

It comprises six sections: starters (NIS 28-58), salads (NIS 42-49), main courses (NIS 68-225), fish (NIS 72-91), and “From Italy” (NIS 58-72). The last two categories are particularly thin: just two dishes in the former, and only two pastas and two pizzas in the latter. There is no pork or seafood anywhere on the menu; there are plenty of vegetarian/vegan options scattered throughout.

Two bread choices are available: a basket of three warm rolls (NIS 12), served with butter and jam, or a loaf of frena bread (NIS 24), with assorted dips.

There is one soup of the day among the starters, and we were delighted when, unbidden, we were brought a bowl of orange sweet potato soup. Soothingly velvety, the soup – enhanced with crunchy croutons – was redolent with earthy flavor.

Another starter, recommended by our waiter, was the portobello mushrooms, stuffed with goat cheese and topped with a caramelized cherry. It sounded – and even looked – terrific; unfortunately, however, the combination of rubbery mushrooms, bland cheese and rather insipid cherries turned out to be unremarkable.

Our first main course was the Scalloppini, although it resembles no dish of that name I had ever encountered before. Instead of thin slices, the chicken came in chunks; and instead of a traditional piccata sauce, it purported to be in a porcini and truffle sauce.

Still, the idea of a sauce of porcini mushroom and truffle appealed – except there was no hint of it in the dish. In fact, the entire concoction was devoid of any flavor, tasting like it all might have come straight out of a can. It was so objectionable, we sent it back to the kitchen after a few attempted mouthfuls.

We had higher hopes for the next main course: the veal asado on the bone, which emerged with an appetizingly glistening exterior, and attractive pink interior. Alas, the meat was mostly fat, while the slightly zesty barbecue sauce that basted it left an unpleasant aftertaste.

The dessert menu (NIS 28-42) reprised the same bewildering format as the cocktail menu (names in English, descriptions in Hebrew). We ordered the red velvet cake, since it is a rare treat in Israeli restaurants. Sadly, this version was so sickly sweet that we could not finish it.

Finally, the cheesecake was satisfactory. We had to wait a bit to start eating it, since it was so cold, but the filling was reasonably rich, and the crust extra buttery.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Brasserie del Borgo
Not kosher
Ramat Yam 60, Herzliya
Tel. (09) 789-8181