Modiim is one of the veteran settlements in the Modiin area. Driving east
on 443 from Tel-Aviv, You'll see the sign to Mevo Modiim on the right
hand side of the road just after Neot Kedumim. Coming from the other direction
the turn off is after Shilat.
Mevo Modiim enjoys its original fame from its most celebrated resident,
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z'l. In fact the original settlers were from the
House of Love and Prayer, Shlomo's California commune. Today there are
many well-known musicians and artists living in this settlement who have
their own celebrity status. Even some of the children of the original
settlers have made a name for themselves in the arts world.
The restaurant is at the far end of Mevo Modiim. Turn into the moshav
from route 443 and keep going straight till the end. Eventually you will
see signs to the restaurant.
Luciano's offers a brief menu of light and inexpensive dairy meals and
snacks. There is some indoor seating but it is for cold weather only.
Most of the year you'll be dining outdoors under a makeshift awning. Tables
are covered in plastic red checked tablecloths. The atmosphere is rustic
at best. Most of the seating is at one long table. On a busy night you
may find yourself dining alongside people you don't know. Taken in the
right spirit, this could be a friendly experience.
When we were there a young couple with a baby set up a small private table
in the corner of the dining area. They made a lovely picture together
with their baby carriage in the background, having dinner for two at sunset.
The operation is run by Shoshana, who is the proprietor, manager, cook
and restaurant hostess. Shoshana and her Italian ex-husband Luciano founded
this restaurant when they moved to Mevo Modiim from Rav Carlebach's San
Francisco community. A die-hard Carlebach fan, Shoshana's kitchen has
a healthy supply of the Rabbi's publications and books commemorating Mevo Modiim, available for perusal. Carlebach music is piped into the eating
area, non-stop, for your dining pleasure.
The entire menu, in Hebrew and English, appears on one side of a laminated
card that you'll find on the table. The menu includes focaccia, salad,
spaghetti and pizza any way you like it. I chose an individual pizza with
mushrooms, which turned out to be a very uneventful dish. I probably should
have been more daring in my choice of toppings.
My companion went for the Calazone, the recommended specialty-of-the-house.
This was described as a blintz filled with your choice of cheese and vegetables.
This so-called "blintz" is made with pizza dough, and after it is filled,
wrapped and covered in more cheese, it is oven baked. The dough gets hard
and crispy on the outside and the veggies and cheese are hot and slurpy
on the inside. You'll have a culinary adventure if you have not yet experienced
this authentic Italian dish. My companion, who likes his Calazone made
with every vegetable in the kitchen, found it very tasty and satisfying.
Luciano's cleverly offers all dishes in three sizes: small, medium and
large. This enables you to order food to match your appetite and to match
the consumption abilities of some of the younger members of your party.
This also keeps the bill down to something reasonable.
The dishes are prepared only after you make your order. You have to wait
a while for your meal, but it is fresh and tasty and worth the wait. Our
bill for one individual pizza, one Calazone, a malt beer and a chocolate
milkshake came to a reasonable NIS 70.
If you look very carefully, in small print way down at the bottom of the
menu you will see a few dishes not from the Italian kitchen. A Swedish
member of the community contributes Swedish style lox and herring. The
lox is cured rather than smoked, which was not expected. The herring was
absolutely the best we have ever tasted. You can buy this to take home,
which we did, at the ridiculous price of NIS 8 per hundred grams.
I have often fantasized about hosting a dinner made up of the best dishes
collected from all the restaurants that we have visited. Were I to do
this, the herring at Lucianos would certainly be on my menu.
Whatever else you can say about Luciano's, a visit to this settlement
is certainly interesting. When you visit, plan enough time to peek into
the shul and perhaps stop at a gallery or two. We regret that we did not
allow enough time for this. It may be wise to organize these visits with
Shoshana in advance.