Back to Sorrento

Itsik is proud to have cooked for former president Barack Obama, former prime minister Tony Blair, Bar Refaeli, and now he can add the Deutsches to his list.

Back to Sorrento (photo credit: Courtesy)
Back to Sorrento
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It was not literally back to Sorrento when we visited the kosher dairy restaurant in Rishon Lezion recently, but I could not resist using the title of that famous Neapolitan love song as the heading for this review.
Sorrento is a sister restaurant of Campania, a meat eatery we visited about six months ago, both owned by the enterprising Itsik, who divides his time between the two as does his celebrity chef, Arik Wakel. He is proud to have cooked for former president Barack Obama, former prime minister Tony Blair, Bar Refaeli, and now he can add the Deutsches to his list.
The menu offers a large variety of choices in different categories, so we let our waitress, Orit, scion of the local Beit Chabad, make some suggestions.
She highly recommended the hot mushrooms served in the pan, and smoked eggplant as starters.
We were not overly impressed with the mushroom dish which seemed to contain only the commonest button mushrooms (Agaricus Bisporus), while there are so many more exotic varieties available now, and they were promised in the menu. Of course fried mushrooms with grated Mozzarella can’t be bad, but it was a slight disappointment (NIS 46).
We fared much better with the other starter, a smoke-flavored eggplant which had been roasted on an open flame, served with pesto and roasted cloves of garlic. The advantage of this is that the garlic is rendered inoffensive while staying pungent (NIS42). The chef also sent a dish of cauliflower florets dipped in crumbs and deep fried, a very tasty nibble.
A basket of breads and dips made its entrance as something of an afterthought but was worth waiting for, a whole meal crispy focaccia; the top loaded with sesame and melon seeds (garinim) with salsa, tapenade of black olives and creamed eggplant.
We both ordered fish dishes, my companion plumping for the fried salmon steak (NIS 99) while I decided to be a bit more adventurous and chose Sicilian salmon (NIS 79).
While the salmon was good but unexciting, being lightly fried with a crispy base and served with grilled vegetables and sweet potato puree, the dish I chose was more interesting. It consisted of pieces of fresh salmon in a spicy tomato sauce full of black olives and more of the garlic. It was a satisfying and homey dish.
And now to our shared dessert, crack pie, which represented a gastronomic zenith in my life. A large slice of brown pie topped with vanilla ice cream arrived at the table. I took a spoonful, and was transported to heaven. This was one of the best desserts I have ever had. Chef Google informed me that crack pie is made from a crust of oatmeal cookies, filled with really healthy ingredients like cream, butter sugar and egg yolks (NIS44).
While we were reveling in every mouthful, the chef came over to say hello. Arik Wikal learned cooking from his grandmothers – one Turkish, one Tunisian – helping them both in the kitchen from the age of seven, and never went to cooking school. There must be something genetic about being a great chef.
It was a great meal, and a return to Sorrento is very likely to happen.
Barshavsky St. 8, Rishon Lezion 03-654-3207
Sunday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. – midnight Saturday: 8:30 p.m. – midnight
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.