We welcome Pankina, one of the few fine high-end dairy restaurants in Tel Aviv. It is a special restaurant that can raise the level of pasta and vegetable dishes, to gourmet levels, and Pankina is there. Pankina mixes Italian flavors with the ambiance of Tel Aviv. There is lovely curb-side seating at cloth-covered tables. The atmosphere is distinctly Tel Aviv while the cuisine is authentically Italian. What a combination.
Pankina restaurant is run by a team of Italian gentlemen. You will be greeted by Shali, the dashing host with the most. Emanuel brought his culinary expertise from Rome, where he ran the kitchen in several restaurants. The food, the service, the dining experience is top notch.
I love a restaurant with a large selection of starters, and Pankina is my kind of restaurant. The fine selection of starters make it hard to choose. Though highly recommened we decided to pass on the Carpaccio and Tuna Tartar.and go with classic Italian starters. Arancini is a starter that you won't want to miss. The Arancini dish includes several balls of Risotto with a crispy coating, and a mushroom filling in a Marinara and Parmesean sauce. Sounds simple huh? Don't try this at home. Only real Italian chefs dare to offer Arancini, as this is the benchmark of the Italian kitchen, so don't miss this mark of the authentic Italian chef.
Mozzarella cheese figures prominently in Italian cuisine. The Mozzarella Fritta is a lovely dish of fried mozzarella slices with crispy coating
in a tomato salsa sauce.
We've all enjoyed the classic mozzarella slices with tomatoes, but at Pankina this dish is served with a twist. The Mozzarella and tomatoes are layered in a vertical construction and the cheese is slightly melted. Yum.
The menu also offers a good number of non-dairy vegetable dishes. We enjoyed the signature zucchini dish, a traditional Roman style marinated zucchini served cold, and served with the amazing Pankina focaccia. This is the way they eat focaccia in Rome for 2000 years, we were told. Does this "maichel" predate the destruction of the Temple? That's for you to figure out.
What is an Italian restaurant without ravioli? We decided to go with the Ravioli Di Ricotta for our main dish. This was a delicious pasta dish of ravioli filled with ricotta cheese in a zucchini and cream sauce. We also chose the spaghetti Pantesca, a spaghetti dish rich in vegetables with bite size pieces of fresh tuna. This is a slightly spicy dish, where the fish does not overpower the flavor. There is also a vegan version of this dish.
Speaking of fish, there is a good selection of fish main courses, which we will try on another occasion.
These delicious dishes go really nicely with a Pankina cocktail. There is a nice selection of cocktails, but you cannot even think of ending your meal without a shot of
Lemon cello - a rich lemony very Italian alcoholic drink.
"Where are you going?" Shali stopped us as we were packing up to go. "You have not had dessert."
Nobody makes Tiramasu like Pankina. Chef Emanuel's favorite, the Pankina Tiramasu is served in a glass large enough to share with your dining companion. What a way to end a delicious meal.
Getting There and Parking: The restaurant is located on Gordon Street, just before the corner of Dizengoff St. The owners suggest parking in a lot on Frishman at the corner of Ben Yehudah.
It is best to have reservations at this restaurant and if the weather permits, to request seating outdoors.
From the Menu: Arancini Starter: NIS 59. Tuna Tartar NIS NIS 69. Mozzarella Fritte NIS 49. LaCanea Zucchini NIS 39., Salads NIS 42. Ravioli filled Ricotta NIS 67. Spaghetti Pantesan with tuna NIS 89. Lasangna of the day NIS 52. Cocktails NIS 45.