Lots to love at Latteccini

From American diner delicacies to fish and pasta, chef Gilad Atlas can do it all.

On one of those bizarre weather days back in January, my dining partner (sister to the Hawaiian shirt) and I sampled some dairy, fish and vegetarian dishes. Chef Gilad Atlas has taken I-have-been-searching-for diner fare to new heights, has kept the preceding restaurant favorites on the menu and has introduced some delicious variety at Latteccini, a café in Jerusalem’s Shaarei Chesed neighborhood. An especially noteworthy feature of this eatery is the well-insulated glass-encased porch where we sat. The wind blew and the torrential rain fell but there was no draft and not a drop of weather inside.
Some of us recall with fondness the delicacies that are served at US diners. Milkshakes, mozzarella sticks and grilled cheese are a few of the standards. Latteccini presents two out of three with modest modification. The cheese sticks are shaped into balls (NIS 28) which mean the same great taste but fewer calories. A word of caution though, the insides are steamy so poke them to let the heat out before popping them in your mouth. The milkshakes are about the same creamy thickness you’d find there, available in several flavors and the price is right at NIS 18.
Breakfast all day is a check plus in my book and another diner favorite is pancakes. Three whole-wheat fluffy flapjacks with whipped cream, maple syrup and berry sauce will run you NIS 30. A dessert version (NIS 38) includes ice cream and fruit salad.
Children’s meals are a check plus for my dining partner who appreciates that all diners, younger and older, can enjoy their own meals. Macaroni and cheese, pancakes, pizza and French fries are the young ‘un options in the small serving sizes.
I try to make a point of commenting on the food presentation as it whets the appetite. At Latteccini, great attention is paid to detail and the dishes are colorful and arranged beautifully. One of the starters, the Polenta Pyramid (NIS 25), was just such a dish. For my tastes it was a bit too salty but my dining partner enjoyed it as is. She also opted for a lemon ginger honey tea infusion which is worth mentioning as she stated, “You can taste all the aspects without any one flavor being overpowering.”
Another appetizer at NIS 25 was the quinoa salad, similar to taboule only nuttier in taste. Chef Atlas really wanted us to try the pasta with the Caprese sauce, made with fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and cream. I discovered that I enjoyed this combination more than my usual Salsa Rosa. Regular pastas are NIS 45, whole wheat is NIS 50 and ravioli in either mushroom parmesan or spinach ricotta is NIS 52.
My dining partner and I sampled the Honey Mustard Salmon (NIS 69) and Garlic Rosemary Tilapia (NIS 62) which were prepared well and are normally served with a side – roasted vegetables, rice or Latteccini fries – and a salad.
We couldn’t stay to sample the onion soup (NIS 25) that was in the process of being made but a return visit seems likely.
Latteccini,Ibn Shaprut 5, (02) 566-5755. Sun.-Thurs.  8 am-10 pm, Fri. 8 am-1 pm.The writer was a guest of the restaurant. The kashrut certificate isRav Rubin mehadrin.