Little Italy

Calata 15, an authentic Italian restaurant, has just opened in Herzliya

Calara restaurant  (photo credit: DANIEL LAYLA)
Calara restaurant
(photo credit: DANIEL LAYLA)
If you ever traveled to Italy then you probably know that Italian food served there is very different to what we got used to, especially here in Israel.
“The food in most ‘Italian-style’ restaurants in Israel is too sweet and the flavors are too strong,” says Andrea Magi, who, with his wife Rachel, opened a beautiful new Italian restaurant in Herzliya Pituach last week.
It does not get any more Italian than Calata 15. Serving traditional - classic Italian cuisine from the region of Pesaro, Italy, the owners not only import the ingredients and kitchen equipment from their home land, they also brought with them a few members of their trusted staff, who will work at the restaurant and stay here until they train local cooks.
But it does not stop there, even the lovely and cheerful floor manager Violetta, was born in Pesaro, although for the last five years, she says she has been living in London and working in Pappardelle – The Magi’s London flag restaurant in South Kensington (they have two more in other locations in London and one in Manchester).
Andrea Magi (55) was born and raised in Pesaro, a small sea-side resort on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. His family was always involved in the food business – his aunt cooked for Pavarotti, his grandfather was a chef on large boats, his dad was a cheese merchant and he himself trained in the culinary school near Pesaro, along-side his good friends.
As a young man, Andrea became Italy’s Light Heavyweight boxing champion and won the European Championship in Turin in 1987, then represented his country at the Olympics in Seoul in 1988.
When his boxing days were over, Andrea moved to London to open a restaurant with his friends and colleagues. There he met Rachel Cohen who was waiting tables in a restaurant. “He started coming there every evening until we got together,” smiles Rachel.
Rachel herself was no stranger to the restaurant business. Born in Yahud, to a mother from London and an Israeli father, she later moved with her family to Jerusalem, where she first was attracted to the restaurant business. “I waited tables in a few restaurants,” she says. After her army service she moved to London “The plan was to be there for a short while. I have family in London, my mother is British and although she lives in Israel, we always went to visit the family, so I felt at home there,” she says.
The couple own four restaurants in London, and they had just closed their place in the USA, after moving to Israel. “It became too difficult to manage it from afar,” Saya Rachel. About a year ago Andrea, together with Paolo, a childhood friend, opened a seafood restaurant located in an old building at the harbor of Pesaro, literally meters away from where the boats unload the catch of the day.
Calata 15 in Pesaro boasts: “only fresh fish, no fridges and no imports.” The menu varies from day to day depending on what the local fishermen caught in the early hours of the morning. The Herzliya name sake, of course, has a different menu but the flavors and traditions are kept.
Magi equipped his restaurant here with a huge Marana Forni pizza oven, that dominates the central bar of the restaurant. There is a pasta room at the entrance of the restaurant, very similar to the one in Pesaro, and anyone entering the restaurant can watch the trays of fresh pasta through large glass windows.
All the different kinds of hand-made fresh pasta wait here in special trays, brought by the couple from their restaurant in Pesaro. “I couldn’t get the carpenter in Israel to prepare them the way the pasta chef wanted, so we took them with us,” says Rachel Magi.
The menu includes fresh pizzas with many different toppings – such as classic margarita, funghi (mushrooms), 4 cheeses and more. There are a dozen different fresh pastas some of which I had never laid eyes on before, and some well-known pasta dishes such as ravioli, black pasta, risotto and gnocchi, there are also main dishes such as fresh seafood, fish, veal and many soups and salads, not to speak of the delicious desserts, all created by a chef who came here to teach the local chefs how it is done.
Look for the pasta e fagioli (bean soup with hand-made fresh pasta), tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce (ragout), pappardelle with lamb ragout or ravioli with fish, gnocchi with tomato and olives, risotto with pumpkin and cheeses, and much more - you will have to bring along many friends if you want to try everything on the menu – or as we did – return a few times.
Why would a former Italian boxing champion open a restaurant in Israel?
Magi says it is very simple. “We live here now so we opened a restaurant here.”
The couple believes that they know how to get locals hooked on the dishes, as they have in other locations around the world.
“Italians and Israelis are very much alike,” he says. “Both are open and warm, and we also like to eat.” he laughs.
Judging by the food served in this new restaurant – they like to eat well.  And so do we.
Calata 15
Not kosher
89 Medinat Hayehudim Street, Herzliya Pituach
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Telephone (09) 9653434.