Bellini is Bellisimo

This Tel Aviv restaurant is intimate, impressive and utterly Italian.

Italian Restaurant Bellini 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Italian Restaurant Bellini 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bellini, nestled in the Suzanne Dellal plaza for more than 16 years, is the place to go before or after a performance. In winter, sit in the Tuscan farmhouse setting, and in the summer enjoy the people watching on the plaza from the outdoor tables. Rough stucco walls, tiled floors and a high-beamed ceiling accommodate tables covered in red or green- checkered cloths. A large fireplace and stone bread oven for baking the crusty house focaccia occupy one wall. To the rear, a seductive display of the day’s antipasto salads separates the dining area from the garlic-fragrant open kitchen. It is hard to tell what is warmer – the atmosphere or the attentive service.
Chef Amir Schuller wanted my dining companion and me to get a good understanding of what the restaurant has to offer, so after we provided a little guidance as to our likes and dislikes, we were brought a parade of tastes.
Upon sitting down, we were met with the homemade focaccia, kept warm in the establishment’s woodburning fireplace. It is served to all patrons, on the house, with a ceremonious mixing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Our first beverage was the house cocktail (also complimentary for every diner), a frozen variation on the beverage for which the place is named. It was impressively tasty.
We started our meal with the beef filet carpaccio. It was comprised of intensely lemon-accented ruffles of thin-sliced raw beef, strewn with grated Parmesan and arugula leaves – both equally full-flavored ingredients that balance the dish. It titillated our senses, leaving us giddy for what was to come.
The Italian exploration continued with bruschetta layered with pieces of sirloin, along with a surprisingly flavorful vegetable risotto that seemed to involve evolving layers of taste.
We moved on to the main dishes. First up was gnocchi in a creamy truffle sauce. The gnocchi was exceptional, and the sauce was so good that we used the crusty bread that came with it to sop up what remained on the plate.
I also recommend taking advantage of Schuller’s inspiration with his everchanging specials. We enjoyed the veal escalope served in a red wine sauce with risotto and green beans. Schuller adapts his choices to the season and, from this evening’s creation, proves to be a trustworthy chef indeed.
Desserts are both typical and original, ranging from irresistible house made cognac/date or coconut ice creams and classic panna cotta to a deep-dish tiramisu served in a ceramic plate.
Bellini’s regular menu is always available and is comprised of pasta, meat, fish, pizza baked over an open fire and much more. For a coffee or snack to a full meal in a wonderful atmosphere, Bellini is well worth a visit.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant

Bellini Not kosher 6 Yehielli St., Tel Aviv (03) 517-8486 Open Sun. to Sat. from noon to midnight. Reservations are recommended.