Italian fare with Mediterranean flair

Mel & Michelle offers enticing high-quality dishes.

Italian food  (photo credit: PR)
Italian food
(photo credit: PR)
If you’re looking for romance, you might want to try Mel & Michelle, a small, smart Italian restaurant on Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv. The dim lights, candles, lovely decor and music all contribute to the special atmosphere of the place. The restaurant’s interior design – wooden floor, old-fashioned wallpaper and a few Renaissance-style oil paintings – adds to the appearance of a family-owned eatery in Florence or Rome.
Run by chef Nir Wayman, Mel & Michelle is one of the finest options in town for an Italian dinner with a Mediterranean twist. The menu offers homemade pasta, meat and seafood.
As no Italian meal is complete without a good bottle of wine, Mel & Michelle has an impressive wine list that includes some of the best reds and whites that Israel and Italy have to offer.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we sat at the bar and received the barman’s full attention. It was nice to be able to peek into the kitchen from where we sat and see the chef and sous-chefs at work.
We had a chance to sample a wide array of dishes from the enticing menu. Upon sitting down at our table, we were served the house bread (NIS 24). This crisp rendition of a divine dough was accompanied by local olive oil touched with a reduced balsamic vinegar that was sweet and tasty.
We began our meal with a special of watermelon ravioli filled with cheese. This is where Mel & Michelle’s exquisite presentation becomes evident. I was so mesmerized by the colors and the beauty of the dish, that I almost didn’t want to spoil it by digging in.
We were then presented with the pumpkin carpaccio, topped with Gorgonzola cheese, mostarda and walnut oil (NIS 56). This was a change from the popular beet carpaccio with an interesting, earthy range of flavors.
Next up was the homemade bresaola – air-dried, salted beef that has been aged two or three months until it becomes hard and turns a dark red, almost purple, color – served with arugula, Parmesan and balsamic pearls (NIS 62). As we took delicate bites of the perfectly cured beef mixed with everything, I watched my companion’s eyes light up as he realized how delicious bresaola could be.
This was followed by the soft polenta with seared artichokes and Sicilian breadcrumbs (NIS 68). Slightly charred and smoky, the tender artichoke leaves and stems were delicious. The polenta was rich,creamy and comforting.
Our main courses consisted of two specials that the chefs are considering adding to the regular menu. First up was pici pasta served with artichoke, breadcrumbs and shaving of truffle.
Pici are thick, hand-rolled pasta, like fat spaghetti. It originates in the province of Siena in Tuscany. The texture was perfectly al dente, and I could taste the quality ingredients.
The truffle flavor was just enough to boost the flavor of every part of the dish but not overwhelm it.
Last was the corvina fillet a la plancha, served with tomato salsa, grilled cherry tomatoes. The fish was cooked perfectly, with crispy skin, and I could really taste the meatiness and freshness of the corvina.
For dessert, we were presented with a sample platter consisting of tiramisu; a wonderfully creamy dark chocolate cake served with cream and amaretto cherries; and a mascarpone crepe. All were especially good.
Mel & Michelle has started offering a business lunch, which includes an appetizer and a main course (NIS 88).
Chef Wayman keeps the lunch menu very similar to the evening menu so that diners can enjoy the same culinary experience at a lower price.
In addition, a glass of house wine will cost NIS 15 and an Aperol Spritz NIS 20.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Mel & Michelle Not kosher 155 Ben-Yehuda St., Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 529-3232