Keeping a full belly during the coronavirus crisis

Finally, after several weeks of not falling back on the most obvious delivery standby, we introduce the first of the pizzerias that will be featured in our series.

Taya (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As many of us were following the news closely, it was heartening to see a report on CNN to the effect that eating food delivered to us by restaurants is safe, as long as the simple precautions governing receiving all deliveries (mail, supermarkets) are followed. The coronavirus is not food-borne; moreover, microwaving or heating in the oven will kill it.
This news was especially welcome in light of the less sanguine reports of chaos in the delivery of grocery orders from supermarkets. Horror stories of receiving other people’s orders, other orders simply disappearing, and people being charged three to four times the amount they were expecting to pay, all mitigate in favor of ordering from restaurants instead.    
Yet another surprising news report revealed that take-away has not really been abolished. The rules state only that food must be sold “outside the premises,” so it is perfectly okay to pick your order up by phoning the restaurant from the parking lot or street and collecting it from someone who brings it out straight from the kitchen. When taking your order, the restaurant will advise you if they agree to that arrangement.
Finally, after several weeks of not falling back on the most obvious delivery standby, we introduce the first of the pizzerias that will be featured in our series. Fear not, however: you will not find any of the large chains here – only quality pizzerias. (Although Domino’s Assaf Granit collection is a noteworthy exception to the general mediocrity of the chain.)
As usual, the restaurants below are not ranked, but rather listed in alphabetical order.
This Frishman institution, one of only a handful of veteran vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv, has an English menu, although the Hebrew “online store” menu is much more comprehensive, comprising not only dishes from the restaurant but also from the bakery, the delicatessen, and the special Passover menu. It also highlights monthly specials.
The English menu consists of seven sections, but the delivery menu derives primarily from the Salads (NIS 52-59), Starters (NIS 39-54), Main Courses (NIS 52-69) and Desserts (NIS 39-46). There are gluten-free options in all these categories.
Recommended representative dishes from these four categories include: black lentil pâté, topped with shards of pistachio; vegan labaneh; soba salad – buckwheat noodles, cauliflower, kale, rocket, green onions and cilantro, topped with spicy almond crumble and served with a dressing of cashew cream, ginger, chili and sesame oil;  mushroom pappardelle in bechamel sauce with portobello and champignon mushrooms, oregano and muscat; and a trio of mini-quiches – onion, mushroom and sweet potato.
Two desserts are worthy of special mention: it is not easy to make these desserts without dairy products, but Anastasia makes a vegan cheesecake that is practically indistinguishable from the real thing, while the chocolate pistachio is a delightful creation that tastes like a cross between a brownie and creamy mousse, with undertones of coconut. Even non-vegans searching for a pareve dessert would appreciate these confections.
Anastasia. Not kosher, but 100% vegan. Frishman St. 54, Tel Aviv. Phone: 03-529-0095.
Pizza Pil
Pizza Pil, owned by the proprietors of the adjacent Pekin Chinese restaurant, is a newcomer to the Tel Aviv pizza scene, but it is already doing land-office business. Its name derives not only from its location near Tzomet HaPil, but presumably also as a reference to its giant-sized pizzas – purportedly the largest in Tel Aviv.
Before getting down to the pizzas, the delivery menu (Hebrew only) itemizes two salads (NIS 36-37), garlic bread (NIS 19), and “fried pizza” – a carb-heavy calzone-like creation filled with melted cheese and a bit of tomato sauce (NIS 39). The pizzas fall into two basic categories: build-your-own – plain pizzas with choices of seven optional toppings – or five specialty pizzas.
Pizzas come in two sizes: giant (60 cm.), large enough for a family, or personal (33 cm.), still big enough for two to share. The former range in price from NIS 99 to NIS 139, while the latter start at NIS 39 (with toppings NIS 6-16) and go up to NIS 42-66 for the specialty pizzas. In addition, there are two pizzas available only in the personal size: gluten-free (NIS 45, plus optional toppings at an extra charge), and bacon pizza (NIS 52).
Recommended pizzas are the Purple – beet cream, sweet potato, zucchini, mozzarella and parsley; and the Seafood – mussels, calamari, shrimp, mozzarella and parsley. The charge for delivery is only NIS 10.
The sole dessert is a chocolate pizza – regular pizza dough smothered in chocolate sauce, either plain (NIS 34) or the “decadent” variation (NIS 39), with a “surprise” topping (in my instance, crunchy candy). My choice would be the plain, to which I would add sliced fresh strawberries at home.
Pizza Pil. Not kosher. Moshe Sneh St, 54, Tel Aviv. Phone: 03-653-7414.
Taya, like its sister restaurant [Italian] restaurant Kofinas, is situated deep in the heart of the Sharon. Both have online English menus, although the up-to-date delivery menus are in Hebrew only.
The cuisine at Taya is pan-Asian, with representative dishes from every major cuisine of the continent (except Indian) – Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai – and even samples of the lesser-known Indonesian and Burmese. In addition, there are a few interesting fusion dishes, as well as a complete sushi menu.
Taya and Kofinas are known for the nice perks they bestow on members of their loyalty clubs. During the current crisis, they are offering a 10% discount on all delivery orders, whose service charge is just a measly NIS 7 as it is. Moreover, members can accrue loyalty points for delivery orders, usually awarded only for meals eaten in the restaurant. 
The delivery menu is quite extensive, but it comprises a manageable five categories, apart from the raw fish dishes: Starters (NIS 26-63), Soup with noodles (NIS 56-64), Stir-fried noodles (NIS 53-67), and Stir-fried dishes with rice (NIS 57-84); Vegan dishes from all across the menu have also been concentrated in its own section (NIS 28-59). (Note: Dishes with the words “crispy” or tempura” in the title are not recommended for delivery.)
Recommended dishes representing the first four aforementioned sections are:
Chinta Salad – morsels of seasoned white meat chicken with lettuce, cucumber, carrot, sprouts and green onion, dressed in peanut vinaigrette; chicken gyoza (Japanese dumplings) in a savory Thai soup; Coconut Dragon noodles – ramen noodles, chicken and vegetables served in a rich, zesty coconut milk soup; Pistachio Noodles, a popular Taya original combining egg noodles, red pepper, zucchini, tofu, scallions and cilantro in a sauce of coconut milk, pistachio, lemongrass and chili; General Tu Su (known on American Chinese menus as General Tso’s chicken) – battered and fried white meat chicken morsels and diced vegetables in a sweet-and tangy sauce.
The five desserts (NIS 34-38) are Western. A good choice here is the chocolate bar: a finger of bittersweet chocolate with a layer of nougat with salted maple.
Taya. Not kosher. HaOfeh Street 1, Kadima. Phone: 09-772-8878.
The writer was a guest of the restaurants.