Understated sophistication

Mel and Michelle is intimate, interesting and Italian

Italian Restaurant (photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
Italian Restaurant
(photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
From the outside, Mel and Michelle is very unassuming and can even be missed if you don’t know it’s there. Stepping inside this small, intimate restaurant in Tel Aviv, you would not necessarily know you were in an Italian eaterie. It is a far cry from a large pizza joint with dozens of middle-aged waiters running around with pizza and pasta. Pizza isn’t even on the menu. Mel and Michelle is very understated but provides a sophisticated setting for some great food.
My friend and I sat at the bar, where we were served by a very charming barman/waiter who made us feel very relaxed but maintained a professional high standard throughout the evening.
We went for a bottle of Chianti Classico 2008 from Tuscany (NIS 150), which was a great start to the evening and complemented the house bread (NIS 12) very well. The texture of the bread, which was served warm, was very similar to a British breakfast crumpet. It was served with labane accompanied by eggplant caviar, as well as homemade pesto, which were both delicious.
The bread was rather filling so when my starter was actually quite a small portion, I was relieved. I had pan-fried market fish served on a bed of corn puree with baby greens, pickled onions and arugula pesto (NIS 62). The corn puree really made the dish and gave it a unique flavor. The fish was well cooked and the skin was nice and crispy, just the way I like it.
My friend opted for artichoke ravioli in garlic butter, yogurt cheese and fresh zaatar (NIS 57). The creaminess of the yogurt cheese complemented the texture of the ravioli and provided a great backdrop for the strong taste of the artichoke.
In keeping with the small and intimate theme of the restaurant, the menu at Mel and Michelle is rather limited. I usually regard this as a good sign, as it shows that the chef is concentrating on what he does best instead of trying to be too adventurous. Of the four main course choices, there were only two options that I was interested in. After much deliberation, I went for drunken veal with mozzarella in a lemon and Chardonnay reduction (NIS 107). Again, the portion was not so big, but looking back it was probably a good thing because it meant that we were not too full by the end of main course. The veal was well cooked, but the lemon sauce was quite bland and took a while to for me to appreciate the flavors.
In total contrast, my friend ordered the tiger shrimp with tobiko caviar, lemon cream and rocket leaves (NIS 118). The mound of shrimp looked impressive next to the caviar, and the dish was tasty.
I was a little disappointed by the side dishes. The only choices were mashed potatoes or a green salad.We ordered one of each. The mashed potatoes were tasty enough, but there was nothing about the salad to distinguish it from a regular salad found at any cafe.
The fact that the side dishes were not so filling was good because we had plenty of room for dessert, and this is where Mel and Michelle’s Italian theme comes to the fore. I ordered tiramisu (NIS 38) and was not disappointed. It was a good-sized portion and had just the right cream-to-biscuit ratio.
The second dessert of panna cotta (NIS 32) had a great texture that was very dense. The small serving of berry sauce around the side was subtle and added a little bitterness to offset the sweet taste.
Although Mel and Michelle is not cheap, it offers good value for money. It is a great place to take a loved one for an intimate meal and enjoy some good-quality Italian food.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.