a joyful combination of everything that is good in Italian food, with a personal touch and seasonal specials

Let's talk about how fun summer places during winter time in Israel are. Take the Herzliya marina for example. At summer time it is hot and vibrant, while in winter time it is withdrawn into itself. The yachts are safely tied to the marina, and the restaurants compete against each other over the few clients that are bold enough to even get out of their houses. In this competition Lucca is a winner: inviting design of wooden furniture and checkered table cloths, heaters set in-between the tables, open kitchen, a stone taboon oven, and a general family atmosphere.

The Lucca restaurant manager helps us compose a meal to fight the outside cold. We start with two glasses of "wine of the month". The Amphorea vineyard Rhyton is a blend of cabernet, Syrah and merlot, a hot and ripe wine with a hint of spices and a full, velvety texture, absolutely right for a night like this. As we sip from our glasses, we discuss our culinary options. Chef David Groisman's menu is a joyful combination of everything that is good in Italian food, with a personal touch and seasonal specials. Take for instance his interpretation of Caprese salad, which is served with a fresh focaccia. This non-traditional yet colorful and tasteful version is made with cream cheese and fresh roasted cherry tomatoes. We get another starter from today's specials, a grilled eggplant fritter with 3 types of cheese, served on a bed of scorched tomatoes that complement the roasting flavors of the eggplant, and a refreshing yogurt-mint dressing on top. The taboon oven from Act 1 produces the pizza served on Act 2. It is one of Lucca's greatest hits, probably due to its crispy dough and creative topping combinations. We try two of them. the Pizza Lucca is topped with grilled peppers and gorgonzola cheese, with sliced red peppers and fresh rocket leaves decorations. The Truffle Pizza is blanca, with cream and truffle cream, sliced Portobello and mozzarella cheese. Alternate bites do not really help us decide which one is better, oh well.

On our main courses we focus on today's specials. He gets the lamb shoulder risotto, which is a rich winter stew of brownish moist rice cooked in red wine and beef stock with lamb meat cuts. I get the salmon fettuccine which is done al-dente, in an orange sauce that absorbs the delicate fish flavors, as well as fresh asparagus just to add some color.

There is one area here that keeps to its classical origins: desserts, made by the house confectioner. We get the Affogato, with whipped white chocolate and hot espresso on the side, which together make for a hot-cold bitter-sweet delight. Our crème brulee is served like a semifreddo – two vanilla frozen cubes with a crispy almond tuile in-between, in a caramel and berries sauce. The two of these, together with a hot latte provide enough warmth before we have to get back to the cold, cold night.