Raising Kiryat Ekron’s culinary level with Nina Bianca

The menu is not extensive, always a positive sign, but there is something for everybody, providing you love fish and dairy, which we do.

Nina Bianca (photo credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO)
Nina Bianca
(photo credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO)
Opened only a month ago, Nina Bianca appears to have already established itself as the “in” place. Every table in the large restaurant seemed to be occupied when we visited recently. It’s touted as a chef restaurant, with the talented Assaf Attia, late of Tel-Aviv’s West End restaurant, leading the team.
The clientele was in the main young and cool, which you would expect from a restaurant situated not too far from Rehovot’s Weizmann Institute. Many of our fellow diners did have a distinctly donnish look – if any jackets were worn they mostly had leather elbow reinforcements – but dress was, as usual in Israeli restaurants, very casual.
The decor is interesting – different floor finishes, some parquet, some tile. There’s a complete wall of white bricks, wooden slatted partitions and high, uneven ceilings. On the walls are some really way-out images – a collage made entirely from forks and a mysterious half-face with a hat, among others. Greenery here and there relieves the rather stark décor.
The menu is not extensive, always a positive sign, but there is something for everybody, providing you love fish and dairy, which we do.
While trying to decide, the perennial focaccia appeared – this one a fine example of the genre, fresh, crispy and not too oily. The accompanying dips were the usual suspects – tehina, oil and balsamic vinegar, eggplant salad and salted cheese (NIS 24). All did the job of soothing the hunger pangs until the real food arrived.
Sergei, the manager, insisted we try the soup of the day, which was corn. It came in a very attractive blue-gray ceramic bowl and was a picture to behold – a lovely shade of yellow, garnished with corn kernels and wisps of dill arranged like a flower. It tasted as good as it looked, although we thought it was a tad too thick (NIS 25).
We also had to try the house cigars (the edible kind). I’m not a huge fan of this dish – fried dough spells too many calories for my liking – but these were exceptionally good, crispy filo pastry filled with feta goat cheese and pistachios. The yogurt/tehina dip made an original accompaniment, and the green leaves on the side were a good antidote to all the grease. They included basil, mint and arugula (NIS 62).
For the main course I chose one of my favorite fish, sea bream (denis) crumbed and lightly baked with cauliflower puree. The very fresh fish had a subtle but pleasing flavor while the cauliflower puree was strong and pungent – a great side dish (NIS 112).
My companion’s lavrak was very “meaty” and the chef didn’t spare the pepper, which was fine with us. The side veggie was kale, an unusual choice, fried and served with olives (NIS 176). The fish were baked in the highly visible “tabun,” a large open oven that is an important part of the décor.
The wine was from the boutique Golan winery Lueria, and was uncorked Chardonnay 2017. It was nicely dry and complemented our fish dishes perfectly (NIS 210 a bottle).
We asked to share a dessert and Sergei brought us a plate that contained several different sweet items: a caramelized banana, vanilla ice cream, and a slice of a delicious moist pie that turned out to be mostly oats and honey (NIS 53).
Together with the post-prandial cappuccinos, it was a perfect ending to an outstanding meal.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Nina Bianca
Bussy Saint Georges St. 1, Kiryat Ekron.
Tel: 08-948-0080.
Open: Sun-Thurs, Noon-4 p.m., 6 p.m.-midnight
Friday (coming soon) 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Saturday: From 7 p.m.