Venturing out

London-born Yoav Preiss has turned his hobby into a restaurant.

Yoav Preiss 521 (photo credit: Barry A. Kaplan)
Yoav Preiss 521
(photo credit: Barry A. Kaplan)
From the moment you enter the glass-enclosed, heated patio, you feel the warmth of the restaurant, the staff and, most obviously, the owner/chef.
How it started
London-born Yoav Preiss says his mother was “a fantastic cook” and he used to do a lot of cooking, such as making the Shabbat meals, as well.
At the age of 11, he entered the “Master Chef” television competition for amateur chefs and in 1994, he says, “I was made Junior Master Chef of London.”
Throughout his high school years, he kept this hobby going; then in 2000, at 19, he went to Israel for a year, became religious and studied at Yeshivat Aish HaTorah.
From there he went to Machon Lev, a men’s institute where students combine their Torah studies with academic studies; Preiss earned a degree in computer programming.
In 2004, Preiss married Rachell, an American from New York, completed his studies and worked for two and a half years at a finance company.
One Succot, Preiss did nothing but cater meals for friends and family.
“Then, in December 2009, an opportunity came to buy a cafe [in Sha’arei Hessed], and I changed it to more of a restaurant and named it ‘Latteccini,’ Italian for ‘dairy.’ I became the chief chef and it began evolving ever since,” he says. Today, Preiss is head chef and supervises four others in the incredibly tiny kitchen.
The glass-enclosed, heated patio seats 26 at black wood tables with gray wicker chairs. The inside room has two black wood tables with upholstered chairs to seat four and a padded leather bench with chairs and seating for eight, also at black wood tables. Taupe colored, flowered damask patterned wallpaper decorates one wall and chandeliers overhead give a quaint feeling.
A bar area for staff is at the back with a glass display case for pastries.
The kosher dairy menu offers breakfast all day. There are also are nine appetizers priced between NIS 25 and NIS 35; two soups; two pizza dishes at NIS 45 and NIS 48; house specialties such as the most expensive, salmon, for NIS 79, tilapia, lasagne, focaccia for NIS 56 and quiche for NIS 46; six salads; five pastas with a choice of nine sauces (NIS 52 to NIS 58); three panini; three sandwiches; wine, hot and cold drinks; and a separate dessert menu with 13 offerings of various cakes, souffles and ice creams. An especially nice touch (probably because chef Preiss has three young children) is a kids’ corner on the menu.
Most popular dish on the menu
“All the desserts, which are home-made, and the signature dish, chocolate sushi.”
Favorite item on the menu
“Tilapia in olive oil and rosemary, baked, because it’s very light.”
What the chef likes best about his work
“The creativity in creating dishes. We come out every month with a different dessert, and we try to do specials every month. This month it is stuffed sole medallion with salmon mousse and a cream of pesto sauce.”
Biggest accomplishment
“Being married with three kids and changing the style of the restaurant from a cafe into a restaurant while maintaining the character of a semi-cafe with a quaint atmosphere.”
Best part of the job
“That everyone is happy when they leave and people appreciate the food you make.”
Who cooks at home?
“My wife. She’s an excellent cook but she was shy to try new recipes.”
Latteccini is located at 5 Ibn Shaprut Street, off Keren Kayemet Street, near Rehavia. It is kosher and open Sunday through Thursday, 12 noon to 10 p.m.; closed Friday and Saturday.