A niche (near the) market

Topolino is a small Italian restaurant with an extensive menu and a large and loyal clientele.

Topolino Restaurant 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Topolino Restaurant 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Rehov Agrippas 62, Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 622-3466
Hours: Sun. to Thurs.
8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Fri. 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Kosher, no certificate
What could be better on a cold and dreary Jerusalem afternoon than to duck into a cozy little Italian restaurant and tuck into some tangy and authentic Italian food? Topolino, located next to one of the entrances of the Mahaneh Yehuda market, fills the bill in both departments.
Small and intimate, the restaurant seats 30 inside and another eight or 10 on the small terrace on bustling Rehov Agrippas.
While the space is compact, the menu is one of the most extensive and expansive I have ever seen. Extensive in that there is a wide selection of dishes to choose from, and expansive in that the originality of the items is exceptional.
As an example, some of the starters include fried sardines filled with herbs and almonds (NIS 44); Camembert loaf baked in honey and garlic (NIS 43); and mushrooms filled with goat cheese and Chinese pecans in cream and brandy sauce (NIS 41).
Among the myriad of main dishes, there is artichoke and ricotta ravioli in lemon butter and thyme (NIS 63); chestnut gnocchi in cream, Amaretto and pistachio (NIS 65); pumpkin gnocchi in olive oil, leek and feta cheese (NIS 65); beetroot gnocchi in cream, walnuts and spinach leaves (NIS 65); canneloni filled with ricotta, mascarpone and gorgonzola, in walnut cream (NIS 69); smoked salmon and ricotta ravioli in sage butter, pumpkin cubes and white wine (NIS 63); and risotto with fresh fish, cream, saffron, green peas and fish stock (NIS 69).
Impressed by the selections but not so adventurous, I opted to order things I was more familiar with. My companion, however, saw an appetizer go by that caught her fancy, so she started with the eggplant slices baked with St. Mor cheese and tomatoes in salsa rossa sauce (NIS 43). It was phenomenal.

As I am always on the lookout for great pizza, I ordered a small one, which we shared (NIS 54). It was good – but not great.
What was great, however, was my main dish. Although one does not generally go to an Italian restaurant to eat fish, that was what I was in the mood for, so I ordered the grilled red tuna steak (NIS 90).
Cooked to perfection, it was accompanied by a platterful of about a dozen different cooked vegetables. My companion had the pasta with fresh salmon in cream and spinach (NIS 69), which was good but a little too al dente for her taste.
For dessert, we topped the meal off with a rich tiramisu and a delicate (but very small) cannoli with a lightly lemony cream filling. In all, we both enjoyed a very tasty and satisfying meal.
Topolino is owned and operated by Israeli-born husband and wife Shai and Yona Sasson, who are also the creative and dedicated chefs. They buy their ingredients fresh from the market every day, except for the fine cheeses, which they purchase from various suppliers, such as a boutique farm in the North.
“We wanted to open a dairy restaurant and create a niche in this area,” Yona explained.
“We wanted to do something new and make it special, not just another borekas place,” she said.
Judging by the steady stream of customers that frequent Topolino, they had their niche come true.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.