How far would you go for a really great cup of coffee? Or a light dairy meal served with a smile in a charming outdoor café that would not be out of place on the Via del Corso in Rome? That’s the feeling you get when you sit down at one of the pavement tables at Toscana, in the middle of Herzliya town (not to be confused with Herzliya Pituah, the seaside area much beloved of foreign diplomats.)
Hands-on proprietor, Shlomi, is everywhere, serving the customers who come in to buy sandwiches and cakes as well as helping out with waiting on tables. He has a chef who prepares the food but the coffee is his baby and you won’t find a better cuppa anywhere in Israel. He makes a point of serving it nice and hot, it’s strong and artistically presented and it is just the thing to drink with the limited but more-than-adequate choices of food.
My companion chose Marco’s Tzatziki, a large bowl filled with iceberg and arugula lettuce, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, olives and slices of purple onion. The large amount of yogurt was topped with spoonfuls of pesto, very green and full of flavor. Everything in the salad was ultra-fresh and the dish was polished off with fervor. (NIS 53)
My choice was a smoked salmon sandwich on rye bread with cream cheese and spring onions. (NIS 41/45). The bread was as fresh as it should be, the smoked salmon, of which there was a generous amount, was the best quality and I savored every mouthful.
When it came to choosing a dessert, it was tricky as the various pies and cakes on display all looked so mouthwatering. Shlomi solved the problem by choosing for us.
“You have to sample our cheesecake,” he says. “It’s famous around here. And I insist you try my mother-in-law’s sponge cake. She’s not just a great cook but the best mother-in-law in the world.”
I found this remark very touching and wondered if my sons-in-law ever said that about me, concluding that they probably didn’t. But then, I can’t make fluffy delicious cake like that, so light it seemed to float on air. The cheesecake, too, was superb, thin buttery crust, creamy cheese center and fresh cream topping.
After this light but more-than-adequate meal, we said farewell to Shlomi and returned to Netanya, bearing sweet memories of a very pleasant gastronomic experience – and superb coffee.
Toscana,Hanadiv 7, HerzliyaOpen: Sunday-Thursday 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m.Friday – 7 a.m. – an hour before Shabbat.The restaurant is kosher and is now in negotiations with the Herzliya Rabbinate to receive official kashrut recognition.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.