Rafaeli Arte Cafe
Rafaeli cafe restaurant is a well kept secret. Located a bit off Netanya's bustling Atzmaut Square, you'll have to look for this restaurant to find it. But I guarantee that it will be worth it.
Italian owner Yosef and his family are seasoned restaurant owners. Their primary restaurant is in Milan, and their foothold in Israel is Rafaeli restaurant in Netanya. This is a family operation with father Yosef at the helm, daughter Odelia the chef, and other family members chimining in. No need to go to Italy to enjoy Italian cuisine. For the price of a trip to Netanya you can enjoy delicious authentic dishes just as they taste in Italy, only kosher.
Rafaeli is located in a quiet passageway off HaAtzmaut pedestrian mall - sort of the "Rambla" of Netanya.
The unassuming restaurant has plenty of seating in their indoor and outdoor space. The decor and the photos of the dishes on this page, belies the quality of the food and the service. Rafaeli is the most French Italian restaurant that I have every come across.
Rafaeli is very far from your standard spaghetti restaurant. Some of the ingredients, from the pasta to certain cheeses, olive oil, and the coffee, are imported from Italy. These are flavors that you will not taste in other Israeli restaurants. Aesthetics is a big number here as well, with all the foods beautifully presented in a most European way. It is no wonder that the restaurant is so popular with the French community.
Our visit to Rafaeli Restaurant:
The Rafaeli kitchen opens for dinner at 7:30pm, a little late for us, but worth the wait. We strolled around the "Rambla" a bit while we were waiting for the restaurant to open,enjoying the festive mall atmosphere. Netanya is a hopping town.
We opened our meal with a glass of white house wine, rich, dry, and a good start. We nibbled on a small bowl of olives and diced lemon in olive oil, while we perused the English language menu. The menu is also available in Hebrew and French. As a first visit to this restaurant and given the late hour, we decided to go light and share one appetizer and one high end main course.
Brochette Antipasti was an excellent appetizer. We enjoyed this lovely dish of three slices of toasted bread and a side salad of baby greens in a balsamic dressing, The toast was topped with antipasti, rolled slices of marinated zucchini, aubergine and grilled peppers, with a pesto flavor. A bite of this was a mouthful, but quite delicious.
For our main dish we shared the
Pasta Tartuffe, one of the high end pasta dishes without fish. Each pasta dish comes in a choice of types of pasta appropriate to it. At Yosef’s recommendation, we chose papardella for our Pasta Tartuffe. These wide, flat parpardella noodles are imported from Italy. They were flavored by a lovely cream sauce with lightly cooked mushrooms in truffle oil. A small amount of greens topped the dishes for a lovely presentation. I liked the serving sizes which were enough to satisfy without feeling overwhelmed with food.
The coffee, Yosef said, is from Italy. Not one of the big companies - a small company that he knows personally, and we have to try it. Late as it was for a dose of caffeine, we agreed to one cup. Not only was the coffee superb, but the presentation was exceptional. A small cup of espresso was served with a side cup of hot water (to add to the coffee if desired) and a cold-water chaser. It was all very lovely, serve with two sweet cookies, How continental.
Owner Yosef is especially careful about the ingredients that he uses in the cooking. If a local ingredient does not meet his expectations, he simply imports it from Italy. I was quite curious about the local products that do meet his standards and was glad to hear that he uses the Gad goat cheeses at the restaurant. The local Parmesan, however, does not pass his test so this he imports. One taste of the grated Parmesan cheese served in a small bowl on the side of the pasta dish, will convince you that he is right.
From the menu: Brochettes Antipasti NIS 39. Pasta Tartuffe NIS 69. Salads NIS 49 - 65. Pasta dishes: NIS 49 - 69. Ravioli NIS 59 - 69. Fish dishes NIS 89 - 109.