"I went for the seafood risotto, while my companion kept her feet firmly planted on dry land with the veal filet. Much to my surprise and delight, the seafood risotto was more seafood than risotto…" Boccaccio, an Italian restaurant in Tel Aviv, teaches Rachel Wagner what it takes to stand the test of time.
Standing proud at the corner of Frisman and HaYarkon for the past 18 years, it's clear that Boccaccio has withstood the test of time in the turbulent Tel Aviv dining scene, not to mention held it's own facing off against hotel tower row.
The space is divided into two sections: the bar area, which also contains table seating, is a cozy alternative to the larger, more airy dining room. Throughout both rooms, the paintings of accomplished artist Avinoam Kosowsky adorn the wall, and most nooks and crannies are filled with restaurant owner Niza Ben Shalom's sculptures. The art lends this gallery-restaurant an Italian renaissance feel, and more than puts you in the mood for a rich Italian meal.
After half an hour's deliberation, and gorging on the tastiest home baked, quality olive oil soaked and fresh chopped basil covered focaccia I've ever tasted, we decided to start with the chicken pate and gravlax. The pate was a touch metallic, and not to my personal taste – though, to be honest, I've never found a pate that is – so I focused on the salmon and fresh tzadziki.
Having exhibited restraint with the starters, we decided to eat like Europeans and share a pasta dish for a second course. We were torn between opting for dry or fresh pasta, of course leaning more towards the fresh. The fresh pasta options (including a fettuccini carbonara and a cheese ravioli with gorgonzola and cream) though delectable I'm sure, sounded a bit rich for our blood. So in the end, the linguine fungi (made from dry pasta) won out, and we happily enjoyed its myriad of fresh ingredients including cherry tomatoes, purple and green onion, assorted mushrooms and, much to our delight, a reappearance of that lovely olive oil.
To keep things interesting, we decided to ying and yang it for the mains. I went for the seafood risotto, while my companion kept her feet firmly planted on dry land with the veal filet. Much to my surprise and delight, the seafood risotto was more seafood than risotto. Shrimp, calamari and mussels abounded, along with a fair amount rich and creamy Arborio rice. The only down side to this dish was its guilt inducing massive size. I tried my best, and called for backup, but no more than half the dish made it into my mouth. I can't say things were all that different with the veal. An enormous cut of veal filet arrived covered in a deliciously sweet Port and berry sauce. Cutting it open, my companion found it was far too rare for her medium tastes. I quickly snuck a bloody bite before it was whisked back to the kitchen to be cooked a little longer.
Arriving back at the table, this no less than 3 inch thick filet had been butterflied, resulting in a perfectly cooked cut. Well, it was still medium rare…but this just meant that we both found some meat to our liking.
For dessert – all of which are made by owner and sculptress Niza – we ordered the tiramisu and Torino Parfait. Both were lovely, and the perfect accompaniment to a couple of nice, strong espressos.
A hop and a skip from most of Tel Aviv's top hotels, and the beach they loom over, Boccaccio is a favourite meeting place amongst business men both foreign and local. After a leisurely 3 hour meal of good food and accommodating service, it was easy to understand why they keep coming back.
Boccaccio106 HaYarkon, corner of Frishman, Tel AvivTel: 03-5246837