The bronze plaque on La Repubblica’s entrance wall says it all, and it’s a big deal. It attests to the fact that the Chamber of Commerce of Italy and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Economic Affairs, the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Agriculture, Alimentation and Forests have recognized the eatery’s commitment to everything genuinely Italian, especially its famous food.
I should be writing about antiquity, religion, or culture in Israel, but instead I want to describe an over-indulgent meal, La Grande Bouffe, the Great Feast, we experienced one spring night, at La Repubblica, in the heart of Tel-Aviv, the nonstop city, on Maze street #3, within the historic Bauhaus district.
I sat down with the intention of having a salad, a glass of wine, perhaps a spoonful of dessert, yet fate decided differently, as we were politely asked by the owner if he could possibly order for us. He asked about food allergies, we mentioned a few, especially one to bad food, but my hosts, the local restaurant regulars assured me that was not the case here.
The kitchen did not disappoint, and dishes showed up at our table in rapid succession: An incredible risotto with melt-in-your-mouth chicken livers, chestnuts and parmigiana; tasty Malfatti spinach dumplings, with roasted pepper and cheeses; a delicate, finely cut local fish, crudo; a classic paper-thin beef carpaccio, with tangy arugula, and parmigiana topping; a freshly baked, thin-crust Margherita pizza, with buffalo mozzarella; shiny, fat ribbons of pappardelle pasta with zucchini, asparagus, spinach and fresh ricotta; pumpkin, pecorino and goat-cheese stuffed ravioli; saffron seafood risotto with shrimp and mussels; a giant sliced sirloin steak, bone-in, with garlic confit, dynamite patate frittes; and as an after-thought, why not, a bowl of mussels cooked in leeks, and white wine. Sure, garlic, parsley and olive oil, too.
While helping myself to generous tastings I quietly pondered my list of favorites. I would definitely come back for the risotto with melt-in-your-mouth chicken livers, and the pumpkin, pecorino and goat cheese stuffed ravioli, and that’s before dessert, ‘cause we had them all, from Tiramisu to Tarte Tatin, and Gelato, and a few in between, I forgot.
It took me two days to recover from the gluttonous overdose of deliciousness, also perhaps because I had a full bottle of red wine by myself. I have to say it was enjoyable off-the-chart.
I totally get it why, La Repubblica received its Q, for quality approved Ospitalita Italiana, under the umbrella of Restoranti Italiani nel Mondo, as the international Italian Ambassador of Taste and Culture, in Tel-Aviv.
I learned that the award program was created by the government of Italy for the purpose of rewarding Italian restaurants outside the country for complying with ten difficult standards of excellence. The project “Italian Hospitality, Italian Restaurants in the World,” ensures global compliance with quality, typical to Italian hospitality, protecting the history, culture and most importantly the authenticity of the Italian kitchen.
I’m not going to bore you with what it takes to land the bronze plaque, but it’s a lot of work. The commitment to serve Protected Designation of Origin Products, specific wines, cheeses, hams, sausages, seafood, olives, olive oils, beers, balsamic vinegar, and even breads, fruits, raw meats and vegetable, is a tall order, and La Repubblica seems to be good at that.
Commitment to excellence pays off.
I will be back.