Italian Flavors: Manuella Restaurant
Debra Kamin indulges at Manuella, an Italian eatery with authentic flavors crafted from scratch in the heart of Zichron Yaacov, a town that is the definition of charming
Zichron Yaakov, with its vineyards, cobblestones and cool mountain air, is the closest thing Israel has to Tuscany. It’s a quaint and charming place, ideal for wine lovers and romantics, and after a full day of sipping and strolling, you’re bound to work up an appetite.
Given the atmosphere, Italian food is a natural craving in these parts. And you’re in luck: Smack in the center of the HaMeyasedim Street, Zichron Yaakov’s central pedestrian boulevard, is Manuella, an authentic, homey ode to Italy where everything, from pasta to pastries, is crafted from scratch.
Like any good Italian joint, the seduction starts the moment you walk in. Manuella is tucked several meters back from the street, requiring a short walk down a warmly-lit alley that ends in a lovely covered patio that could double as your Italian grandmother’s backyard (if you had an Italian grandmother, of course).
Chef and co-owner Nadav Sherez does have an Italian grandmother. He also has an Italian mother, whom you’ll find in the open kitchen crafting the desserts while his sister culls out the pasta and he flocks from table to table, checking on customers.
Manuella is a bread-lover’s shrine, so leave the Atkin’s diet behind and prepare to feast on some of the finest dough this country has to offer. Start with the foccacia, served up warm from the oven and adorned with rosemary, rock salt and fine olive oil. The flavors are simple and rustic, a food philosophy Sherez learned while studying the renowned Slow Food movement during his many years as an apprentice in Italy.
Save some bread to sop up the flavored oils of the Mozzarella Condita, which arrives in soft, dense white balls floating on a salad of basil, succulent kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes. It’s lovely accompanied by the panzanella salad, packed with farm vegetables and capers and draped in several splashes of olive oil and red wine.
Pasta, prepared perfectly al dente with just enough chewiness, is offered as spaghetti, fusilli, fettuccine, pappardelle and penne; with both cream and tomato sauces and toppings ranging from field mushrooms to smoked goose. The ravioli with cream sauce and asparagus is a crowd favorite, but with farm-fresh ingredients and hot-off-the-stovetop sauces, your best bet is to order several varieties to share.
And don’t leave Manuella without at least tasting their oven-baked pizza, rolled out on a dough of imported Italian flour and offering the tongue the ideal combination of char and crunch. The restaurant has a small but well-curated wine menu of both Israeli and Italian wines.
Desserts include staples such as tiramisu and double chocolate cake, but if you’re lucky, Sherez’s mother will have whipped up a few of her spectacular chestnut tarts the day you arrive. If they’re available, loosen your belt and make a little more room. At this starch-loving institution, the crust alone is something to sing about.
Prices are reasonable and service is excellent. The restaurant offers enough ambiance for a romantic night out but is also family friendly.
49 Hameyasdim St, mid-rachov, Zichron Yaacov, 04-8735761.
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