Anna Italian-Style Restaurant
Revisited August 2018
The Anna Ticho House is a 200 year old Jerusalem landmark. The House is in the heart of downtown Jerusalem, off Yaffo Street near Harav Kook Street. The Ticho house served as the private home of Anna and her husband Dr Abraham Albert Ticho, at the turn of the 20th Century. After her death, artist Anna, donated the house and its sprawling property to the Israel Museum. The museum exhibits Anna Ticho’s and other art works, and houses a lovely dairy restaurant.
The Israel Museum, the Jerusalem Municipality and a generous private donation enabled a complete renovation of the legacy Ticho House in 2016. Original architectural elements were uncovered and the glorious building was lovingly refurbished. If for nothing else, it is worth visiting the Anna Ticho house to see the architecture and the renovation.
Would the Ticho’s visit the House today, they would not recognize their former home or the neighborhood, which is now built up with apartment buildings and hotels. Times change, Anna. They call this progress. The entrance is now on Harav Agan Street, the building is modernized while retaining the original architectural elements, and the restaurant has been moved to the second floor. An elevator takes you from the entrance level to the second floor restaurant.
Anna Restaurant Revisited
Anna is an award-winning restaurant, for good reason. The atmosphere in this unique historic location is lovely, the service is good, the dishes are delicious and the prices are acceptable.
My companion and I visited the restaurant on sunny summer afternoon. We took seats on the shaded outdoor balcony where we were eye level to the pine trees swaying lazily in the breeze. Despite the high temperatures the patio was most comfortable . It is prudent to reserved places in advance because we were not the only ones with this idea.
The menu offers so many enticing dishes, we decide to take the restaurant recommendations. This does not always work out, as sometimes the restaurant chooses foods that are not our favorites.
We took the chance.
What are the signature dishes? we asked.
The restaurant recommended gnocchi as a starter and salmon with quinoa for the main course.
These are two of my least favorite foods and I never would have chosen them, but in a good restaurant it is worth going with the recommended dishes. The restaurant suggested a focaccia and cheese dish for my companion, and we shared the salmon main dish.
The gnocchi at Anna is barely related - maybe a second or third cousin to the standard gnocchi that we know from other eateries. The gnocchi dough is made in house, with the Parmesan and ricotta cheese folded into the dough before baking. The result is light and fluffy
chips (and not the standard heavy carby balls). These are served with perfectly cooked asparagus slices and cherry tomatoes, topped with a dollop of cream. This was a truly delicious dish that we cannot recommend highly enough. If for nothing else, it is worth visiting Anna for the gnocchi dish.
My companion started with the Focaccia dish that included a cube of white Bulgarian Feta cheese in a spicy "velvet" tomato sauce. If you like spicy cheese dishes, this is for you. The dish was served with crisp and tasty focaccia that balances out the chili and peppers in the sauce. As all the dishes that we saw at the restaurant, the presentation of this dish was beautifully presented. I would love to show a picture of this dish but none is available. The restaurant changes dishes seasonally with the availability of the freshest ingredients, and it appears that the photos do not keep up.
The starters at Anna are quire substantial, so if you can resist the delicious sounding main dishes and you can agree between you, you might consider sharing just one main course for two diners. My companion and I shared the salmon dish on a bed of quinoa with segments of cooked garlic on the side. This healthy high-fiber dish was a big success with perfectly prepared salmon (on the plancha) and quinoa that even I enjoyed. This is a very beautifully presented dish, that again, there are no photographs.
Note that other popular dishes are the pizza, the ravioli and the tortellini. The menu offers specials that we will have to try on another visit.
Which is the best dessert?
Without hesitation, the lemon tart. The generous slice of pie was an enhanced version of American Lemon Meringue Pie. The pie had a thin crispy shell filled with lemon cream and topped with white meringue seared to brown highlights. The shell provided a nice crunch to the soft lemon cream and meringue. This is the perfect way to end the meal. The photo above shows not only the delicious pie but captures some of the elegance of the restaurant.
More About the Restaurant:
The Anna restaurant is on the second floor of the Ticho House museum, with an elevator. There is a convenient pay parking lot on Harav Agan Street very close to the Ticho House.
The restaurant has multiple dining areas indoors, including a private room for 10+ guests, a bar area, and a large outdoor porch. The indoor areas have the high domed ceilings characteristic of the wealthy Arab homes in pre-state Jerusalem. Notice the original drawings on the ceiling, uncovered during the renovation. The acoustics in these domed ceilinged rooms can leave the rooms rather noisy. You might want to sit on the spacious porch if the weather permits. The restaurant is available for parties and groups with reservations in advance.
Anna Italian Café comes with a social conscience. With the Dualis group, Anna is a training restaurant for youth. The Dualis Fund seeks to build meaningful and purposeful lives for people with limited opportunities. The Dualis businesses teach personal skills, offer vocational training, employment and job creation for worthy candidates. http://www.dualis.org.il/en/
From the menu: Gnocchi starter – NIS 62, Bulgarian fete cheese with focaccia – 48, Salmon main dish with quinoa- 94, Business lunch noon - 5pm starter + main course for the price of the main course.
The eLuna discount does NOT apply to the breakfast or the business lunch.