Well worth a visit

When you’re at the Tahana complex in Tel Aviv, stop for a meal at Italkia Ba’Tahana.

Fish dish at Italkia Ba’Tahana (photo credit: Courtesy)
Fish dish at Italkia Ba’Tahana
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Tahana complex, located in Tel Aviv between Neveh Tzedek and Jaffa, is usually a place I visit in the summer because of the great atmosphere it has with all the restaurants enjoying their beautiful outdoor spaces. So when I was invited to check out Italkia Ba’Tahana’s new winter menu, I was a little apprehensive but intrigued.
The interior is laid-back but sophisticated. We sat at a table in a cozy corner of the restaurant and enjoyed the atmosphere. The service was also sophisticated and understated, the young waitress being very knowledgeable about all the dishes and able to give excellent advice about choosing what to order.
As well as being of a high standard, the service was also consistent in that we had the same waitress the whole time. This made a refreshing change to the experience at many larger restaurants where as many as 10 members of staff could be responsible for your table, which can make things confusing and very impersonal.
For starters, my friend and I shared the pâté of chicken livers in a Marsala wine sauce with toasted bread and jam (NIS 40) and fried risotto balls with olives, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese coated with bread crumbs (NIS 34). Out of the two starters, we preferred the pâté, mainly due to the great texture and the richness of the livers. The jam was of a very high standard and complemented the dish well.
The risotto balls were slightly less inspiring, although tasty nonetheless.
The two large deep-fried balls were filled with risotto. They were tasty, but the dish as a whole was let-down because the tomato sauce the balls were swimming in was cold and tasted like ready-made pasta sauce.
Although the restaurant has a full range of pizzas, pastas and meat dishes, for the main course we were in the mood for something a bit lighter, so we went for fish. I ordered the corvina fish fillet served with baked spinach risotto in a fish stock (NIS 130). The relatively large fillet of white fish was excellently cooked, with the skin having just the right level of crispiness. While the fish took center stage, the baked spinach risotto held its own by being slightly unusual and having a crispy yet soft texture. The flavors all worked together, and although the portion was not particularly large, it was satisfying.
Although I really did enjoy my main course, I was overcome with a case of food envy when I tasted my friend’s sea bass baked in olive oil, herbs and coarse salt, served with potato gnocchi, champignon mushrooms, Italian artichokes and pine nuts (NIS 120). The two fair-sized fillets of sea bass had been cooked so that the fish was soft but the skin was crispy and full of the olive oil and herb flavors.
The gnocchi was creamy and rich and could have been a separate dish in its own right.
While the main dishes were not heavy or overly filling, by the time it came to dessert neither of us had much room left, so we decided to share one. The kadaif with fresh wildberries, mascarpone and cinnamon (NIS 36) was just what the doctor ordered. This Italian twist on the classic Middle Eastern dessert worked well, with the creamy mascarpone adding some moisture to the otherwise dry kadaif. The rich taste of the berries added to the richness and made it a great winter dessert.
Italkia Ba’Tahana is not the best Italian restaurant I have ever been to, but it is quite high up there. The food is of a high quality, the service is exceptional, and the atmosphere lends itself well to a romantic dinner or to catch up with family and friends.
The prices are on the steep side, but as an overall experience the restaurant is definitely worth a visit.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Italkia Ba’Tahana
Not kosher
The Tahana Complex, Tel Aviv
(03) 522-2664
Open Sunday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight