Unexpected Italian eating

Gourmet Pizza from SuperPizza, panini subs and burgers at Piano Piano

SuperPizza (photo credit: ASAF KARLA)
(photo credit: ASAF KARLA)
Restaurateur Yuval Snir has been working side-by side with talented chef David Frankel (of the upscale Italian restaurant Pronto) on-and-off since Frankel was a teenager. Snir’s latest brainchild is a pizzeria where he and Frankel spare no expense to create a culinary experience that would far surpass what most people expect from places where they routinely grab a snack or meal to wolf down standing up or in front of the television.
“We source the best ingredients from exclusive Israeli suppliers and leading European vendors -- including many different kinds of specialty flour, which we blend to make our distinctive crusts,” says the hard-working Snir. “We never stop experimenting, and we have come up with dozens of topping combinations, which we are constantly updating and rotating.” In what can only be called a stroke of bad luck, SuperPizza (which took over the premises of Israel Aharoni’s late lamented ramen bar Hiro) opened the week before the first Covid lockdown. “Because of the quality of our pizzas, and the promotions and bonuses we hand out with our deliveries, we are thriving in spite of the restrictions,” adds Snir. “But we are designed to be a place where people come to enjoy a gourmet meal, albeit of unique pizzas fresh and piping hot from our imported ovens.” On any given day, there are at least 21 varieties of pizza to choose from, the overwhelming majority of them with topping combinations that defy classification. Among them may be found familiar crowd favorites, such as pepperoni and margarita, simply because they are so popular and people expect to find them.
Pizza is sold by the weight, at NIS 140-150 per kilo. Snir is unabashedly unapologetic about the price: “We are more expensive than our competitors,” he concedes, “but while at other places selling by the weight you are paying largely for the thick crust, here you are paying primarily for the premium toppings.” The daily delivery special is called “the selection” (NIS 140), which comprises six different tranches piled high with toppings in unprecedented combinations. The selection’s components rotate every day, so that one day is never the same as the next.
The pizzas in the selection I tasted included five portions smothered in charcuterie -- none of them as pedestrian as pepperoni -- and one delicious vegetarian one, consisting of potato cream under a layer of crumbled feta cheese and green onion. Although there is not one sample I did not enjoy, I think my favorite was the double pizza: like a croque monsieur sandwich between two crusts, with the upper one rendered crunchier by the addition of toasted polenta.
In the near future, SuperPizza will be adding a line of different double crust “sandwiches.” Also planned, when restaurants reopen to the public, are baked desserts, made with the same type of quality ingredients that characterize the pizzas. For the time being, only tiramisu and chocolate mousse are available.
Of course, due to public demand, there are vegan options -- but they are limited, and will not be expanding. “While we can find cheeses for vegetarian pizzas that meet our demanding standards,” Snir explains, “we have been unable to come up with a recipe for vegan cheese that satisfies us.”
Not kosher.
Levontin St. 19, Tel Aviv.
Tel. (03) 743-4499
Piano Piano expands its menu
The popular, family-friendly suburban chain Piano Piano has attracted a loyal following by consistently serving pleasing staples of Italian cuisine: pizza, pasta and classic desserts. Not content to rest on his laurels, however, owner Asaf Lev has introduced two Italian-inspired versions of American foods: submarine sandwiches and hamburgers.
Leading off the extensive delivery menu (in Hebrew only) is the category headlined New! Piano Burgers (NIS 58-68): four juicy beef burgers served on homemade focaccia buns topped with sesame seeds. This section is followed by House Breads (NIS 18-29) and Appetizers (NIS 44-48); Salads (NIS 44-58); Panini (NIS 48-59); Pasta (NIS 42-72); Risotto (NIS 54-66); Pizza (Individual, NIS 42-68, Family, NIS 62-86); Meat (NIS 66); Seafood (NIS 82-86); Kids’ Meals (NIS 42-46); and Desserts (NIS 22). There are plenty of vegetarian/vegan options.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I particularly enjoyed the two most recent menu categories. The panini are not at all similar to the square sandwiches sold in Italy; rather, the Piano Piano quartet features ciabatta mini-loaves resembling hoagie buns. I was very happy with my choice of the Arrosto: savory roast beef seasoned with Italian spices on fresh, toasty warm bread.
I had not planned on ordering a hamburger, but Lev insisted. I selected the one with the most toppings: “bacon” cheeseburger, with Emmental cheese and bacon made from lamb. The ratio of all the components was perfect, and the thick burger with the melted cheese and crisp bacon substitute was simply delicious.
This was also the first time I tasted the house salad: mixed leaves of lettuce and baby greens, slices of green apple, pralined almonds and crumbles of gorgonzola and feta cheese. Once again, the proportions of the ingredients were ideal; moreover, the excellent sweet-and-savory honey-mustard vinaigrette was served separately, so the salad could be dressed just the way you want.
All of this was preceded by my starter of polenta with mushrooms: creamy corn polenta cooked with milk, butter and Parmesan cheese, seasoned with nutmeg and topped with meaty mushrooms drizzled with truffle oil. An outstanding dish prepared with care and precision.
Piano Piano.
Not kosher.
4 branches in Gush Dan.
Sample branch: G Mall, Weizmann St. 301, Kfar Saba.
Tel. 09-768-8778.
The writer was a guest of the restaurants.