Serafina - Italian comfort food delivered

Serafina’s largely intact menu can now be enjoyed in an expanded radius of Tel Aviv.

Serafina  (photo credit: GIL AVIRAM)
Serafina
(photo credit: GIL AVIRAM)
Just over a year ago, the Tel Aviv branch of the large international chain of Italian restaurants Serafina opened to great fanfare. The upscale restaurant has since firmly established itself as a neighborhood – and indeed, citywide – favorite in Ramat Aviv, even during these difficult months of on-again, off-again lockdowns. When restrictions tighten, it ramps up deliveries, expanding to areas beyond the city limits, and frequently offering 15% discounts on the entire menu.   
Although the printed menus are in English as well as Hebrew, the extensive online food menu is in Hebrew only. Each dish is illustrated, however, making things easier for those who are not fluent. 
The delivery menu’s eight food categories are identical to those in the on-site menu, although several substitutions and eliminations have been made in the cases of dishes less suited to traveling. The aforementioned sections are: Appetizers (including salads, NIS 44-62); Intermediate dishes (NIS 69); Pasta (NIS 67-112); Pizza (NIS 67-98); Mains (NIS 78-118); Sides (NIS 22-24); Kids’ Meals (NIS 52-56); and Desserts (NIS 38-44). 
The intermediate dishes are basically pasta variations, while the pasta category – rather perplexingly – has not a single one al forno (from the oven), not even that iconic favorite lasagna. Most sections contain vegetarian options, although vegan dishes are few and far between. 
Our choice of first course was Grilled Artichoke​: large, farm-fresh artichokes very gently seared and served in a bed of labaneh. The flavorful veggies were nicely al dente, while the slightly tart labaneh got the saliva going in anticipation of the courses to come.
Our initial choice of intermediate pasta was Risotto Primavera, but the manager strongly recommended the Mangold Cappelletti. I had been hesitant because the spinach-like leafy green vegetable is often overpowering; but as it turns out, I needn’t have been concerned: The slow-cooked, dark green vegetable in the “little hat” pasta shells was pleasantly mellow, and drenched in a rich sauce of lemon butter, garlic confit and mascarpone cheese.  
Our no-brainer selection from the dedicated pasta section was the Truffle Spaghetti​, complete with plenty of razor-thin slices of black truffle on spaghetti in a sauce of butter, chives and Parmesan cheese. Fans of the earthy, expensive delicacy will enjoy this delicious pasta. 
I was somewhat surprised that Serafina’s Calabreze Pizza was excluded from the delivery menu, but in any event, we were curious to try its Campo di Fiori, which I have not seen in any other Israeli Italian eatery. I was pleased to discover that the restaurant has worked out its early kinks with its pizza crust, while this version of the Roman vegetarian pizza – topped with dark, leafy greens and herbs, stewed cherry tomato and chunks of salty white cheese –was particularly savory.
We were less pleased to see that the main courses at Serafina are still inexplicably bereft of any main courses that are classically Italian. Instead of, for example, eggplant or chicken Parmesan, we find Israeli schnitzel; instead of veal piccata, we are offered the universal hamburger; instead of ossobuco or steak Florentine, there is the ubiquitous salmon. Last chance for lasagna, and it is still MIA.  
The closest thing appearing to be fundamentally Italian was grilled chicken in pesto sauce. The good news is that while this was only a default choice, it was surprisingly tasty.  
There are only two desserts on the delivery menu, and one was the all-too-common tiramisu. So we opted for the mille-feuille, which at Serafina was deconstructed; in other words, rather than being multi-layered, it was a like a pudding of mascarpone cream and white chocolate studded with shards of caramelized puff pastry. Absolutely decadent, and so rich it lasted several meals.  
Serafina 
Not kosher 
10 Einstein St., Tel Aviv. Phone: (03) 657-9080 
serafina-tlv.com
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.