Fine dining in Yehud

Pane e Vino excels in the categories of food, wine and service.

Pane e Vino (photo credit: ITTIEL ZION)
Pane e Vino
(photo credit: ITTIEL ZION)
Although I live in a suburb of Tel Aviv myself, I had never been to the suburb of Yehud, let alone to a restaurant in that neighborhood bordering Ben Gurion airport. I had no great expectations, therefore, when I accepted an invitation to visit a local bistro with the Italian name Pane e Vino (Bread and Wine).
Nevertheless, my first impressions were quite positive. The handsome interior contains comfortable leather seating, while there is a large al fresco area on a front patio (half of which is enclosed and heated in the winter). Pleasant music played on the soundtrack at just the right volume.
We learned from the co-owner, an Israeli woman who had lived for some time in New York, that the establishment has been in business for 20 years. That, in itself, is quite an accomplishment; and indeed, we were to observe that Pane e Vino appeals to a broad spectrum of demographics. Early in the evening, despite its sophisticated name and the absence of a kids’ menu, the restaurant attracted families with small children.
Cocktails and the house wines are listed on both the bilingual printed menus and on blackboards on the wall. Of the seven cocktails, only three are specialty drinks (NIS 39-42), while the rest are classics.
In the former category, we could not resist ordering the whimsically named Pichefkes comprised of lemon-spiced rum, peach, triple sec, angostura bitters, along with the Passion Sunrise mae from vodka, oranges, passion fruit and crème de cassis. The two refreshing drinks proved that while the bartender here might not be prolific, he is certainly talented.
The international wine list, meanwhile, is fairly extensive, with a more than reasonable selection available by the glass or carafe. The 10 wines – five red and five white – designated as house wines are on a blackboard in Hebrew only, but our waitress did an admirable job explaining everything in English. She revealed that all the staff are trained and then tested on their knowledge of the wines; in fact, all aspects of the service were extremely professional.
The food menu comprises five sections: entrées (NIS 29-58), [homemade fresh] pastas (NIS 56-74), salads (NIS 51-69), pizzas (NIS 49-59), and mains (NIS 69-139). There are vegan (or vegetarian) options in every section, and no pork or seafood anywhere on the menu. (Interestingly, there are more [smaller] salads in the appetizer section than in the Salads section, where the salads function as main courses.)
As we studied the menu, we munched on the Lehem Yayin (Pane e Vino) focaccia, an impressively long and skinny version. Served with caper aioli, pink tehina and olive oil with balsamic vinegar, it took great willpower not to ruin our appetites before we got to the main events.
We began with the first starter listed on the menu: ceviche. No further description was offered, but it was perhaps the furthest thing from traditional ceviche I have encountered: morsels of raw red drum fish with cubed mango, finely diced red pepper, green herbs and – most surprisingly – shreds of nacho chips. Fortunately, this creative departure was rewarding: the mélange of extremely fresh fish, sweet fruit, crisp red capsicum and crunchy chips added up to a magnificent interplay of flavors and textures.
Next was liver pâté, served with pear confiture, cornichons and toast points. Pâté and jam is always a winning combination, and this was certainly true here as well. Moreover, the rich, creamy pâté was one of the best versions I have tasted in a while.
The pasta dishes looked so tempting we decided to make one of them a main course. The spinach fettuccine with Gorgonzola cheese, mascarpone, pine nuts and arugula was delicious and filling. A nice touch was the waitress grinding black pepper and grating Parmesan cheese table side.
There are two beef filet dishes among the main courses, of which we chose the one with “mushrooms, red wine and beef stock.” Surprisingly, the absolutely succulent filet mignon arrived in a skillet swimming in a sauce that had the unmistakable taste of cream in it. While I am ordinarily a big fan of cream, I do expect the menu to tell me when it is going to be added to a sauce described as red wine and beef stock; and although this particular sauce component was not to my liking, my companion thoroughly enjoyed it.
The separate dessert menu lists most of the usual suspects (NIS 11-42), but it has more choices than most. And we were delighted to discover that they also taste better than most: the generous slice of sinfully decadent cheesecake was garnished with fresh strawberries and blueberries, as was the perfect mille feuille, which was truly patisserie quality.
Pane e Vino
Not kosher
Hahoresh 4, Yehud
Tel. (03) 632-1793
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.