92 Ahuza St., Raanana
Kashrut: Rabbanut Raanana
Open Sunday - Thursday: 10:30 am. - 10:30 pm. Friday: 10:30 am. - 2 hours before Shabbat.
Closed Shabbat and Motzei Shabbat.
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Vici Deli & Bakery
Vici revisited December 2015
Vici Restaurant is Chef and owner Idan Janowitz' dream come true. It starts with his grandfather's career in the IDF. “Being the cook" he would joke, "is worse than being in combat – you’re under fire 24 hours a day.” Idan used his grandfather’s recipe for schnitzel with great success in New York. He then immigrated to Israel as a lone soldier straight to the armored brigade. In between there were culinary, tours in Australia and New Zealand, working in kitchens run by the chefs from the upper echelons of those countries.
After all his travels Idan settled in Raanana and opened Vici restaurant. We came, we saw and we conquered (Vici in Latin) - the inspiration for the restaurant name. And the bakery? That is a reference to the meat pies available in the restaurant and for take out.
About The Vici Deli & Bakery Menu
Vici Restaurant occupies a small space on Ahuza St., Raanana's main drag. Idan wants his diners to feel like they are having an intimate meal with a chef at his home. The intimate space, says Idan, creates a bond between the diners and the chef;
and is reminiscent of an intimate New York City restaurant.
Vici offers fixed price and an la carte menu.
The Vici dinner menu is a four course affair that begins with an appetizer, then a salad course, the main course and finally desert. The portions are generous enough to share, and there is so much food no one will feel short changed.
There are two choices for the appetizer – sweet and spicy chicken wings, or Scotch Eggs. I love chicken wings so for me the choice was a no brainer. The spicing on the wings was mild – neither too sweet nor too spicy. If I hadn’t seen the chili pepper seeds floating in the sweet date honey sauce, I wouldn’t have known they were there. The wings come with a bit of garlic-dill olio if you wish to add a bit more zest to the meat.
Scotch Eggs was new to both of us, so we had to try it. A Scotch egg, for non Scotsmen, is a boiled egg wrapped in chopped sausage meat then coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried to a crisp golden color and texture. This may be a favorite in the UK, but New Yorkers will stick to the wings.
Turns out to be pretty handy to hale from New York when you dine at Vici. Dishes are named for locations in the Big Apple.
The Flushing Salad, for example. has nothing to do with plumbing. It refers to the neighborhood in Queens, New York.
The Flushing Salad is a mixture of beet roots, carrots and kohlrabi in a thin julienne cut, made tangy with a sauce of sweet chili, garlic and an almost invisible touch of cilantro. Many of us are wary of cilantro, but this was so subtle that I could hardly identify it. The salad was refreshing, and an excellent interlude between the chicken wings and the main courses.
For our main courses we shared the Cordon Bleu and the smoked Short Ribs. I always considered Cordon Bleu to be fancy simcha food; a dish that we rarely see on a restaurant menu. Cordon Bleu is a whole chicken breast stuffed with smoked pastrami, then coated with bread crumbs and fried to a golden crisp. Chef Idan does this very well – it must be a variation on his grandfather’s secret schnitzel recipe! The Cordon Bleu comes with slices of grilled eggplant and grilled red peppers, and is attractively served on a wooden cutting board.
Our favorite dish of the evening was the smoked Short Ribs. This dish is variously known as Asado, because of the slow cooking style in which it is prepared, or Shpondra, a name for the cut of meat known as short ribs in English. The meat is first smoked by the chef’s own method, then slow cooked for six hours (!), and then grilled just before serving. It is served sizzling and bubbling in a skillet, with barbecue sauce. The outcome is thin slices of relatively lean meat.
After three courses, we really did not need desert, but who can resist home-made apple crumble? This was a small personal pie, which is a format that Vici uses for its meat pies as well. The pie is filled with small cubes of apple sautéed in spices, and the crumble is added on top. What was particularly appealing is that the pie was all natural and not excessively sweet.
In addition to the dinner menu, which is available from 7:30 to closing, there is another menu available all day. This menu has a selection of hamburgers and sloppy joes with names like Corona, Howard Beach and Long Beach, and sandwiches of steak, corned beef or roast chicken (Bayside, Forest Hills, Astoria). There are more dishes, including platters and salads if you don’t want sandwiches, and not all of them have geographic names!
Ra’anana has long needed a nice meat restaurant at a modest price. Dinner is 75 to 90 shekels, depending on the choice of main course. Pasta Primavera is the vegetarian alternative on the dinner menu. Dishes on the regular menu are attractively priced at 30-40 shekels.
Vici is located in the busiest part of Ahuza, Ra’anana’s main street. Parking is available on the streets behind the restaurant or opposite on Brenner Street.
I revisited Vici in Ra’anana to try their home made corned beef sandwich, The Forest Hills. First of all, I really like corned beef, and secondly, I grew up in Forest Hills J.
Vici makes its own corned beef in a process that takes 10 days. They don’t want to waste good beef, so they don’t make large quantities. As a result, they tend to run out of the product toward the end of the week. I had to visit the restaurant several times to satisfy my curiosity about this sandwich. I finally got there for lunch on a Monday, and they had no problem filling my order.
The Forest Hills is a thick sandwich with meat, pickles, and a bit of what looked like Russian dressing. The meat was not fatty at all, and had a slightly smoky taste on top of the characteristic flavor imparted by the curing process, which uses peppercorns, cloves and other herbs and spices. It was served on fresh rye bread that was thin enough so that it did not overwhelm the meat with carbs. (Think sandwich, not club roll.) The sandwich was wrapped in paper so that it would not fall apart, cut in half for convenient eating, and served on a wooden cutting board to make an attractive presentation.
The dish comes with a choice of Israeli salad or homemade cole slaw. I chose the cole slaw, which is how it would be served in New York. Vici serves a large personal portion in a home style bowl. The salad was fresh and lightly dressed, with no excess mayonnaise at the bottom of the bowl.
Another innovation since the last time I was there is that the tables are covered by a New York City subway map. While I ate, I located my old Forest Hills subway stop and traced the route I used to take daily to get to school, and later university, in Manhattan. That was nostalgic fun too.
While I was there, I noticed that the diners at a nearby table were told that two dishes that they tried to order from the menu were not available. I’m afraid that Vici still has some challenges in meeting its customers’ expectations.
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Vici Deli & Bakery. Print out this coupon and present it at the restaurant.