Veggie goes Italian

Looking back at many of my trips around theworld, I believe it's the foods I remember most. Though, my trips toEurope always seemed to be plagued with lack of varietyfor vegetarians.Italy, however, was a vegetarian's heaven.

Alright,to be honest, I've only been to Milan - once. My stopover was for 36hours on my way back to Israel from India. (Somehow, airlines create anamazing detour in which Europe is enroute to the Middle East fromAsia.)

During this day and a half, I crammed in lasagna, greatespresso, gelato, panini and the greatest pizza I've ever had at asmall trattoria complete with red and white checkered table clothsspread over simple wooden tables, candles in chianti bottles and somenice Italian music in the background. I was just waiting for the chanceto roll a vegetarian meatball to a passing tramp.

Sadly, no tramp passed (depending upon your social outlook).

Fortunately,at my recent visit to Neve Tzedek's lovely Bellini, an Italianrestaurant in a romantic Tuscan style, I did have a date - though morelady than tramp.

The beautiful Bellini is located in the courtyard of thebeautiful Suzanne Dellal Center. The emphasis here is on simplicity:good ingredients and, to be sure, good pasta. The delicious house wine,a Primitivo Zinfandel Roca Alta 2007, is served in an unmarked bottleas if it's straight from the theoretical house vineyard, just out back.

We started with one of my favorites, insalatacaprese - a salad that needs nothing more than great basic ingredients:balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. Each bite was aperfect delight. For a main course we had the gnocchi quattro formaggi- a familiar sauce of four cheeses, cream and tomatoes. Once again,prepared to perfection.


My carnivorous date had the veal sirloin, finishing it inseconds. We also tried the farfalle Milanese. A sweet and unique dishof butterfly-pasta in a sauce of aubergines and honey, mushroom, fetacheese, pine nuts and red shatta pepper.

For dessert we had a nice tiramisu. Though not one of myfavorites, the lady liked it. Being the Frank Sinatra that I am, Iallowed it.

We finished the meal with the house Limoncello. Simply put, itwas one of the best I've ever had. While this liqueur usually tasteslike a melted lemon Popsicle, this one wasn't too sweet, with a reallemony flavor and very refreshing.

All through June and July, Bellini celebrates the Italian Sagradei Limoni - The Lemon Festival. Special lemon dishes are available,such as veal escalope in a sauce of white wine, cream, lemon, capersand artichoke hearts and chicken scaloppini served in a cream and lemonsauce on a bed of linguine - and more. The house Limoncello will beavailable at special prices.

I'll definitely be visiting again for some of the veggie,lemony treats. Though I can't say the same for my lady friend. Whileshe was into the cuisine, she was less fond of me.

Bellini - 6 Yehieli St.Tel Aviv; (03) 517-8486 - is openSun.-Sat. from noon to midnight; not kosher. The writer was a guest ofthe restaurant.