Italian restaurants - not just for the pizza

Italian food seems to adapt well to home deliveries

(L-R) Dishes from POMO and Serafina (photo credit: Courtesy)
(L-R) Dishes from POMO and Serafina
(photo credit: Courtesy)
We never count birthday calories. And although the lockdown lasts much longer than a birthday, we decided that lockdown calories don’t count either. Well, they do, eventually, but when the stress levels rise, all we can think about is carbs, both sweet and savory, and no one does carbs better than the Italians.

Getting food delivered has its pluses and minuses. Yes, it is fun to be able to eat nice food at home in one’s pajamas, skipping the annoying parts of finding a good parking spot, a babysitter, etc. On the other hand, part of the magic of eating out is getting dressed up and sitting in a nice restaurant, seeing people and being served. All that is missing when getting the food delivered to you, but the biggest problem unfolds when the food actually arrives. How is it packed? How did it survive the trip to your home?

Some foods travel better than others – like pizza, some burgers when packed properly, most Asian dishes (except noodles) and sandwiches. Other dishes may get overcooked or even destroyed. So the secret is to try to find those that will make the journey safely. My suggestion: ask the people in the restaurant – they should know.

Limiting ourselves to a maximum of two deliveries per week, we chose this week to order from two well-established local Italian eateries, POMO and Serafina.

POMO

Located in Ramat Hahayal suburb of Tel Aviv, POMO is a fashionable, happy restaurant led by chef Shachar Barnea. The cuisine here is based on beloved dishes from southern Italy, celebrating fresh vegetables and herbs. POMO is very much a Tel Avivian place, with very up-to-date decor and an easygoing atmosphere, and the open kitchen provides interest as well. A large coal oven dominates the space and adds flavor to fish and meat dishes, as well as the traditional antipasti grilled vegetables.

In order to cope with the restrictions, POMO, like many other restaurants, had to focus on its delivery menu, offering its clientele, as well as newcomers, a full range of authentic Italian dishes – at home.

You can start with cold roast beef, seasoned with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, with arugula and pecorino cheese on top (NIS 58), which is a good choice for deliveries, since it travels well.

We chose two starters – The Pomo tomato salad – with Kalamata olives, focaccia bits, salsa rustica and buffalo mozzarella (NIS 64), which also traveled well, and Burrata cheese with artichokes and tomatoes, which was very good (NIS 64).

Pasta, especially fresh pasta, may get soggy if not served directly when ready, so we skipped the pasta and chose to enjoy POMO’s very tasty pizzas. There is an extensive pizza menu here. We tried one of the pizzas that were only recently added to the delivery menu – the Tartuffe (truffle) pizza. Its pizza sauce is based on cream rather than tomato sauce. The creamy sauce is topped with Parmesan cheese, black truffle spread, portobello and shimeji mushrooms and provolone cheese. Very rich and delicious, the pizza was more than enough for two or even three hungry diners (NIS 73).

Other options include pizza Capricciosa, a typical mix of tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichoke, portobello mushrooms and Kalamata olives (NIS 69), and a Sicilian pizza with a tomato base, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, anchovies, chili, cherry tomato confit and capers (NIS 66). Both sound excellent.

There is a limited but very good selection of fish and meat dishes, which we skipped this time, but on previous occasions we enjoyed here the meagre fillet with gnocchi (NIS 134).

There is a dessert menu as well, and if you order directly from the Internet site, you’ll get a 10% reduction. The minimum for ordering is NIS 60.

POMO delivers anywhere in Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon, Petah Tikva, Ramat Gan, Givatayim and Tel Baruch. Its business menu is also available for deliveries between noon and 5 p.m., Sunday to Thursday.

POMO
Not kosher
Tel. (03) 922-5320

Serafina

Serafina Tel Aviv is part of an international chain of Italian restaurants that aspires to serve fantastic Italian food in a warm, informal atmosphere. The chain started in New York and now has 38 branches across the US and around the world in cities such as Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Dubai and Tel Aviv.

The menu presents mainly dishes from northern Italy, based on family recipes of the founders.

Known for the great food, Serafina enjoys the patronage of the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Trumps, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and the Kardashians.

The decor of the Tel Aviv branch is classic, and the space is dominated by a large bar and a mosaic black-and-white portrait of Sofia Loren.

For the second lockdown, Serafina added new “fall” dishes to the delivery menu, which we had to try.

We opened with two salads. The first was the classic Caprese with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. The olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing came separately, which kept the vegetables fresh (NIS 44). The other salad was seared artichoke with ricotta cheese, arugula and basil oil. Delicious (NIS 52).

Serafina is known for its handmade pizza crust, and we would have loved to try it again, but we had too many pizzas lately so decided to try other delicacies.

Our next dish was the mangold cappelletti, cooked in lemon-butter, with garlic confit. A perfect comfort food that was the highlight of the meal.

To try the main dishes we ordered just one fish fillet (NIS 11). The fish was seared on the hot plate with blanched green vegetables – simple and elegant (as much as delivery food can be).

Despite the urge to leave the food in the plastic containers, we decided to respect it and set the table with proper china. We added a bottle of white wine, and the meal was almost perfect.

There are two desserts on the delivery menu and we sampled both. First was a very good tiramisu, which we ate up together with two homemade espressos from our machine. The other dessert, Mille-feuille with mascarpone cheese, was kept for the next day – we were too full.

Serafina offers two special menus to be delivered – the “Romantic,” including two focaccia breads, two starters, pasta, two main dishes, a dessert and a bottle of wine with a wine opener for only NIS 400, and another option, “Pastoral,” which gives a 15% reduction on the whole menu between 12 noon and 11 p.m.

Serafina, located in Ramat Aviv, will deliver to all parts of Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, Ramat Gan, Givatayim and Kfar Shmaryahu.

There is no minimum. For more details call (03) 657-9080 or go online to https://serafina-tlv.com

Serafina
Not kosher
10 Einstein Street, Ramat Aviv

The writers were guests of the restaurants.