Italy in the Galilee

Liliana’s on Kibbutz Yasur is authentic, from the food and decor to the music and amore.

Italy in the Galilee (photo credit: courtesy)
Italy in the Galilee
(photo credit: courtesy)
Pulling into Liliana’s on Kibbutz Yasur sets the mood for a restaurant that is clearly a labor of love. Gravel crunching loudly beneath the tires evokes memories of youth, family and comfort. The faux fountain greets you with its bubbling joy. The Italian flag, along with popular Italian music playing in the background and outdoor tables laid with gingham cloths, complete the décor. A massive photo of a strikingly handsome Italian woman smiles down affectionately from atop the roof of the restaurant. She is Liliana, the reason for it all.
Once we were seated, the scent of antipasti wafting from the kitchen made our mouths water. The crunchy home-baked focaccia can easily distract you from the courses to follow. We were wary of the seafood platter. Kibbutz Yasur is far from the nearest shore. Restaurants relying solely on the daily catch from Acre are not known to last.
However, generous portions of baby calamari, large plump shrimp, chunky mussels and calamari rings arrived immediately, dispelling any previous suspicion. Excellent does not begin to describe the quality of the crustaceans, all fried to perfection in a light batter, accompanied by various colorful and zesty dips.
Time to question the owner. Acre, it seems, never earned the trust of chef Ofer, either. Seafood is delivered from the best supplier in the country, Machrovsky, the founder of Tel Aviv’s legendary Mul Yam. Imported New Zealand mussels disappeared from the plate more quickly than they arrived, each of us vying for the last one on the dish. We agreed this was the best starter we ever had. And at NIS 65, it may be the best seafood deal in the country.
The majority of Liliana’s wine is procured from local boutique wineries. Ofer will happily assist with your selection, and the inexpensive Chianti-like house wine with its unmistakable pleasant Tuscan aroma is a winner.
Struck by the opulence of the seafood starter, my partner selected the seafood risotto. Surprise number two! Rich and creamy Arborio grains of rice proudly cradled a diverse and ample variety of delectable fruits de mer (perot yam)..
Though the resident kibbutz cows greeted us kindly when we arrived, I fought off guilt and, without hesitation, devoured the finest cut of pepper steak I have eaten anywhere in Israel. As with all the main courses, the portion was plentiful enough to feed two, but I never learned to share.
Room enough for dessert was now in serious question. Over a serving of incredible chocolate mousse, Ofer told us that the day he met his wife-to-be, he phoned her mother and said, “Liliana, I would like to introduce myself as your future son-in-law.”
It was at her kitchen table where he met his second love; Italian cuisine. It may seem crazy to open an authentic Italian restaurant in this remote northern kibbutz, but never underestimate the power of amore; the essential ingredient of a good life and good cooking. This is the legacy of Liliana.
We were definitely hooked and will visit again soon and often.
Note: On December 15, there will be a Neapolitan evening from 7 p.m. onwards. A full meal based on Italian southern cuisine will be served at NIS 170 per person.The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Liliana’s Not kosherKibbutz Yasur (04) Mon-Thur 5 p.m. until last customer Friday and Saturday, noon until last customer Closed Sunday