Nina Bianca: An Israeli dairy restaurant worth the long trip - review

It took more than an hour to get home, as we hit the notorious northbound traffic jams – but with happy memories of the outstanding meal we had just enjoyed.

 Nina Bianca is a beautiful restaurant with a massive mural at its center. (photo credit: ALEX LIPKIN)
Nina Bianca is a beautiful restaurant with a massive mural at its center.
(photo credit: ALEX LIPKIN)

Rehovot is quite a long drive from Netanya – it took us an hour to arrive there in time for lunch – but if your destination is the well-established dairy restaurant Nina Bianca, it’s definitely worth the distance.

And for lucky people who live in the area, workers at the Weizmann Institute or inhabitants of nearby Ness Ziona, it’s right on their doorstep.

The restaurant is large, even sprawling, with different eating areas and a diverse interior design which makes use of white brick and roof tiles painted off-white and used to give texture to large swaths of wall. Other decorative elements are glass panels of different designs and palm trees placed at strategic distances.

It’s airy, and at lunchtime light flows through the large space, illuminating wall paintings and the well-spaced tables and chairs.

 Nina Bianca's fish schwarma (credit: David Moyal) Nina Bianca's fish schwarma (credit: David Moyal)

What's good to eat at this Israeli dairy restaurant? 

We decided to go for the NIS 130 business lunch. There is a NIS 90 one, too, but as this is mostly pizza and pasta, we preferred the more expensive, but still not excessive set lunch.

“We are famous for our cocktails.”

Friendly waitress

“We are famous for our cocktails,” said our friendly waitress, and we didn’t need much persuading. I had my favorite drink of the moment, a margarita, which has superseded gin and tonic for some time now (NIS 59). My companion chose a Basil Splash (NIS 48), which was a long green drink, decorated with mint leaves, and which had some mild alcoholic content, too small to make much impact.

The first course is included in the fixed lunch and consists of several salads with focaccia. The bread was piping hot and like a thin baguette. It was very good, but I could have passed on the river of oil it was floating in.

Of the five starters, the homemade hummus with garlic was outstanding, and the raw tuna cubes in a lemon dressing, contrasted with sweet pomegranate seeds, made for a real mouthwatering experience.

Other starters were a dish of roasted aubergine with fresh cream, a mixed vegetable dish with sour cream, and finally a small salad consisting mostly of lettuce and radishes.

After nibbling delicately on the starters for a while, we were ready for our main courses.

I had picked something called fish shwarma, not quite knowing what to expect. It was cubed fish in a red peppery sauce with tehina and s’hug. Regular s’hug is hot enough, but this was even hotter.

The fish came in small rolled lahuh, a Yemenite bread, which bears an uncanny resemblance to our own English crumpet.

My companion, always more conservative than me, had lavrak, three freshly fried small fillets, perfectly cooked and served with very al dente green beans. Both our mains were excellent.

We shared a chocolate dessert, which was totally decadent, mounds of chocolate and fresh cream topped with huge crispy tuiles and a caramel sauce.

It took more than an hour to get home, as we hit the notorious northbound traffic jams – but with happy memories of the outstanding meal we had just enjoyed.

Nina Bianca9 Bussy Saint Georges StreetKiryat EkronTel. (08) 948-0080Open: Sun.-Thurs., 12 noon-12 midnight; Friday, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Sat. night, from one hour after Shabbat.Kashrut: Kiryat Ekron Rabbinate

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.