Twice as Good

“The tortellini – pockets of pasta, filled with goat’s cheese and basil, lightly fried in olive oil, garlic, and tomato – was a gentle and delicious dish…” Keren Vizner spent Tuesday, twice as good a day, in Papardella, a kosher restaurant in Rehovot.

Tuesday’s significance is that in the Bible it was the third day of creation; the only day in which “God saw that it (his creation) was good” is stated twice - twice the contentment or twice as good, in other words. For me, the day is also significant for being Survivor night. Yes, I am one of the many addicts of the much-hyped reality show (the Israeli version), and Tuesday nights see me transformed into a couch-potato. I’ve never had truly considerate friends and so one phone call got me off my comfy couch and into my car and a 35 minute drive to distant Rehovot and secret meeting with “anonymous” in an Italian restaurant in Israel by the name of Papardella.

Papardella was opened around two years ago and is located in the entrance to Park HaMada (Science Park) in Rehovot. The restaurant serves kosher dairy food and offers worthwhile lunch business specials – something no doubt appreciated by the numerous high-tech sector employees who work in the area. Breakfast at Papardella was recently upgraded with a rich fish menu. Papardella offers two seating options: outside (roofed) where the atmosphere is friendly, younger, and hipper; and inside where the restaurant feels more intimate, and which is more popular with families and romantic couples. One can also choose a more personalized seating arrangement: a regular table, special benches, or the VIP corner, which is where we sat (did “anonymous” bribe someone?). I immediately realized that I got more than mere privacy: off to the side was a personal plasma screen, which allowed me to satisfy the most basic of my needs – watching Survivor…

In empathy with the hungry survivors on the island, we too felt famished. The starters were mushrooms, saut?ed in olive oil, garlic, onion, and basil, and served over green leaves and with a hot and tasty bruschetta; and the tortellini – pockets of pasta, filled with goat’s cheese and basil, lightly fried in olive oil, garlic, and tomato – was a gentle and delicious dish. It was not easy eating while knowing of the plight of my “friends” on the Island, but the aromas which filled the restaurant’s interior broke any will power I may have had and the plates were soon emptied.

For my entr?e I selected the Balkan pizza: thin and crispy dough, baked in a brick oven, and topped with fried eggplant, black olives, and Bulgarian (brindsah) cheese, all perfectly combining to create a homey Italian flavor. “Anonymous” chose the four-cheese ravioli in a light Rosa sauce – a dish of generous portions, thoroughly seasoned, hot, and delicious.

In the meantime, the show on TV was over, and pleasant background music took over. Rumors of the Papardella desserts, prepared on site by Eyal the chef, made their way to our table. Who better to try them out than I, a person who never forgoes a sweet finale? Two desserts were brought over, both looking promising in shape, size, and serving –style. I chose the Yin & Yan – panna cotta, served with a small and warm chocolate souffl? in an espresso cup, and with fresh and delicious whipped-cream, adorned with strawberries – which was nothing short of excellent. The second dish was the chocolate truffles – a large, airy slice of cake, made of 100% Belgian chocolate, not too sweet, and served with whipped-cream. Even though I am not the biggest fan of chocolate, I savored every bite, and proclaimed this dessert to be a pure pleasure. We washed down the sweetness with a refreshing Italian strawberry cocktail, served with perfect timing.

So, as far as I am concerned, Tuesday (at least this one) really was twice as good: a fine Italian dinner with “anonymous” in the pampering VIP corner, and a suspenseful episode of my favorite reality show. It was good. It was good. Indeed.

3 HaMada, Park HaMada, Rehovot