Luciana: Italian restaurant opens new branch in Mevaseret Zion - review

As the sun was setting on the Jerusalem hills and the “Luciana” sign illuminated us, we knew it was a worthy addition to the family.

 Luciana (photo credit: Courtesy of Luciana)
(photo credit: Courtesy of Luciana)

Hear, hear! Mevaseret Zion (Herald of Zion) is rapidly becoming more than just an upscale Jerusalem suburb with colorful lit-up buildings, as under Mayor Yoram Shimon, the local council has invested in versatile urban spaces.

One of the recent additions to the food scene of Mevaseret is the new branch of the Luciana Italian restaurant chain (Luciana meaning “light” in Italian), which opened almost four months ago in the vibrant and accessible Country & Park complex on Har’el Street. Its branches in Ashdod, Ma’aleh Adumin, the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem, and Modi’in are known for their versatile and creative interior designs, and Mevaseret’s branch is no different as it takes a modern and slick approach to its indoor space.

Its outdoor area, which was recommended by the hostess, has a gorgeous backdrop of palm trees and hills, an ornamental fountain, a pastoral playground, and most of all, happy eaters.

Enjoying a menu of dairy, pescetarian, and vegan options

As for the food, the Mevaseret restaurant retains its classic dairy Mehadrin menu with pescatarian and vegetarian/vegan options.

The waiting staff were lovely (our waiter, Nadav, saw us wobbling the uneven roundtable and instinctively brought a wedge to balance it with handyman efficiency), and recommended several dishes.

 Luciana (credit: Courtesy of Luciana)
Luciana (credit: Courtesy of Luciana)

We were served mouth-watering slices of raisin sourdough bread, with olives and butter to start, an Italian restaurant tradition, which, unfortunately, most in Israel forget, but not Luciana.

For the starters, we ordered the Beet Pelini, a tortellini-like dumpling filled with beets and goat cheese in a rich, but not overpowering beet cream (NIS 58). The Sea Fish Ceviche is served with cilantro, harissa yogurt, and pistachio crumble which provided a delightful crunch to the dish. (NIS 64). The Focaccia Caprese, with pesto, mozzarella, and roasted tomatoes (that could have been more charred) was a good healthy serving for the price (NIS 46).

The salad we were recommended, was the Venetian Salad, which has lettuce, endives, beets, a sweet nut mix, fried feta in pesto, and a honey-lemon vinaigrette (NIS 69).

There could have been a wider pasta selection, but we had a nice, pescatarian kosher play on a carbonara (NIS 79). It is usually made with bacon or pancetta, but Luciana offers it with meaty chunks of red tuna, and a nice peppery creaminess you could expect from the classic dish.

Their roasted pepper and artichoke pizza (with a homemade dough of course) is the one our waiter said he would be caught snacking on after a hard day’s work (NIS 70), and when he wants to treat himself he’ll have the drum fish fillet. We took him up on the fish, which was juicy and flavorful, accompanied by potato gnocchi with sage, carrot cream, and green salsa (NIS 139).

The roasted salmon fillet was served on a bed of potato puree, with chimichurri and whole shallot onions, which would have been better chopped up and added to the chimichurri (NIS 129).

Our dinner was paired with cold coffee, fitting for the heatwave outside, a glass of Sancerre white wine, and a new cocktail the restaurant tested on us (currently unnamed but the leading candidate for its name is “Salome”), a gin-based, passion-fruit, and strawberry drink with chili flake garnish that gave it some spice.

For dessert, we had chocolate mousse with peanut butter, and a New York-style cheesecake with vanilla ice cream on top, both made in the Mamilla branch (NIS 54). The restaurant also offers wholesome breakfast and lunch options.

As the sun was setting on the Jerusalem hills and the “Luciana” sign illuminated us, we knew it was a worthy addition to the family.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

Luciana, Har’el Street, Mevaseret Zion, JerusalemMehadrin kosher