Small and Splendid

La Lasagna restaurant may look small from the outside, but her rich Italian menu includes an assortment of first courses, pastas, gnocchi, ravioli, and fettuccine. Oh yes, we nearly forgot, there is also plentiful lasagna.

It is not easy to keep kosher in Tel Aviv: seafood restaurants prop up on every corner, every sandwich comes with bacon, and most eateries are open on the weekends. Yet, here at the heart of Diezengoff Street, one of the major hedonist strongholds of Tel Aviv, sits a kosher Israeli restaurant, La Lasagna, serving Italian, dairy-based, and kosher cuisine - a welcome alternative for those Tel Aviv residents who stick to their religious traditions.

The owner, Joseph (Fifi) Tamam immigrated to Israel a number of years ago. During his travel here, he found among his possessions a few ancient Italian recipes, passed down from generation to generation in his family. He started dabbling in cooking, at first for his friends and then later, after some encouragement, for the public at large by opening La Lasagna.

There is something fun about La Lasagna, and this may be due in part to her small measurements. Spatially, one can hardly say this is a restaurant, and yet one can say (with a mouthful, that is) that this place serves the best lasagnas in the Tel Aviv. Here lies the charm of the restaurant: a small and homey establishment, with an outward appearance of a salad or sandwich bar. However, one glance at the plates being served reveals an entire world of tastes – tastes of Italy.

This is one of the “most Italian” places in town. The menu offers an assortment of pastas and salads, sandwiches made of freshly-baked (on-site) bread, cakes, jams, and spreads. The main attractions, though, are the lasagnas. An entire page n the menu is devoted to them, and they are some of the finest we have tasted. There are different lasagnas at different prices, with different fillings, from the classic lasagna to the lasagna with mushrooms, eggplants, pesto, and salmon. We chose to have the one with ricotta cheese and spinach. Shortly after ordering, we were served a dish of just the right proportions, and of precisely the right flavor. It seems as though this lasagna perfectly combines the right doses of cheeses, vegetable, and pastry: all of it subtle, properly-seasoned, not too fattening, and goes down smoothly, leaving you feeling full yet not stuffed.

The general pasta selection is also impressive, including the various types of gnocchi, ravioli, and fettuccine, in fine sauces. We enjoyed the penne with sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and olive-oil. A couple who like to eat a bit of everything can definitely order a pasta course and lasagna and share the meal. However, choosing two excellent and filling lasagnas and forgoing the pasta is also a way to go. If you decide to open with a crispy bruschetta or one of the offered crostinis and to round-off the meal with a temptingly-named dessert such as Bella Helena (pears in chocolate), kastana (panna cotta with chestnuts), or tiramisu – you will have a complete and happy dining experience, and leave with a will to return. This is small place, it is true. But it is the real thing.

La Lasagna
177 Diezengoff Street, Tel Aviv