98 Ibn Gvirol; 33 Bograshov;Dizengoff Center (bottom floor); 267 Dizengoff; 22 Ishtori HaParchi (Basel Compound)
Mon-Tues 10-24; Wed 10-11, 17-23; Thurs-Sun 9-24
Itay experiences the flavors by inhaling the aromas, focusing on the colors and thickness, swishing a large amount in his mouth and pausing to listen to the aftertaste. He then describes the range of perceived flavors, aromas and general characteristics such as the balance and texture. Wine tasting? No, but Itay has brought his passion of wine tasting to the ice cream business. Each flavor is treated like a special reserve wine, where only the best ingredients are used and cared for from seed to final product. Each of the ingredients is revered to create an ice cream flavor experience for all of your senses. Much like a wine consumer enjoys the fruit of the vine, we were instructed to first look at the colors and textures, then inhale the aromas, and finally taste the delicate flavor with every part of your mouth. One mustn’t forget to listen for the aftertaste. The painstaking process, resulting in a perfect balance and synergy between flavors, is the passion of the brothers Rogozinsky, owners of the Vaniglia (vanilla in Italian) ice cream shops.
The original shop, the size of a closet, opened in 2001 on Basel Square, 22a Ishtori Haparchi Street. In the early days, they bought the ice cream from a distributor selling 24 flavors. The business almost collapsed when an interested buyer almost bought the store, but at the last moment, the sale didn’t go through. Itay then acquired a second hand ice cream maker and began reproducing each ice cream flavor, one by one. They gradually discontinued buying the flavors, as Itay discovered that he had the touch; or as he says, “A lucky hand”. Slowly the number of flavors increased, and Itay has been learning and perfecting his craft ever since. He says he will never stop learning and his dedication to teaching himself has brought him this far, why stop now? When we asked him what he thought of other famous ice cream brands, he shook his head and said his work is never finished, as he has something to learn from everyone. Currently Vaniglia has anywhere from 50 – 60 homemade flavors on hand. In addition to variety, we found the sheer quality of the aromas, textures, colors and tastes to be incomprehensibly indistinguishable from their fixings. As Itay explained the reason sorbet is his favorite, he believes that “sorbet can actually accentuate the aromas, colors, and tastes of a fruit. It also brings it to an enjoyable texture and removes any work involved in consuming your favorite fruit”.
“I don’t know what a recipe is; I mean what is that? My flavors are always changing, even from batch to batch. I build the batch around the ingredients, smelling, tasting and viewing the ingredients before I carefully choose their counterparts. Each batch receives its own attention, changing the temperature to accentuate the colors and aromas, and then adding certain flavors later in the process so their temperature is optimized to achieve the perfect consistency for each ingredient.” Itay explains with immense passion and intensity that – no fruits are harmed in the process – meaning that none of the fruits are cooked in the process so that all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients are maintained as nature intended.
Itay buys his fruit from a farmer in Cesaria nicknamed, “The tree whisperer,” who grows over 140 varieties of produce. Itay doesn’t go to the shuk to purchase large amounts of fruits, he believes that the farmers have a habit of picking the fruits too early, and Itay only uses fresh fruits for his ice cream. We always begin with the most important part: Perfectly ripened, high quality fruit. Since he doesn’t use any coloring (all the colors are from the real ingredients – this is not to be taken for granted. Considering many of his sorbet’s are over 70% fruit, it is understandable why this is so important, and it definitely shows in color, taste, and texture in the final product. At Vaniglia, the mango tastes impeccably like the freshest Maya Mango you have ever eaten, the pineapple’s freshness takes you to Costa Rica, and the lime tastes more like a lime than a real lime does. Itay accomplishes this, not only by hand picking his farmers, but by requesting the branches that get the most sun. Every year my flavors change, as the fruits change from time to time. For example, if the nuts are not of the highest quality, then the ice cream won’t be either. In Piedmont, Italy, he buys nuts that are 15 mm in size, deep with rich oils and without holes. A machine holds the nuts up to the light, to be certain there are no defects. Itay travels the world to select and secure only the highest quality ingredients for his ice cream. We all proudly boasted about the produce in Israel and how this land produces a wide array of majestic produce, and Itay does prefer to use ingredients from the land of milk and honey. However he won’t compromise on quality when it comes to his ice cream, and goes so far as to say that, “ 80% delicious is my worst nightmare, beginning from the very first moment of the process, until it touches your tongue.“
Although hard to only describe a few, the following are some flavors that especially captured our hearts and taste buds. Campari Grapefruit sorbet is a balance of sweet and tart; of sour and bitter flavors; and of red and pink colors. It is sweet and refreshing at first, and while the ice melts on your tongue it brings a delicate punch of the bitterness of Campari, and ends with a warm and tart aftertaste that leaves you yearning for the next bite. If you enjoy fruit sorbet with a twist, Itay has also paired a northern Israeli syrah with Israeli safadoneh pears, infused with cinnamon. This is a treat in the summer or winter, as it inexplicably warms and refreshes simultaneously. Poppy seed/ Almond has the taste of poppy seed (an Israeli dessert staple) combined with almonds flown in from Sicily and is a surprising yet delectable fusion of earthly pleasures. If you enjoy the Israeli staple flavors, try the Halva ice cream. Not to be confused with Tachina, this ice cream is pure, glorious halva, and enjoyed by most Israelis.
Lemon Bar – the base of this ice cream has the taste and texture of a well-prepared lime curd. Made with local Israeli lemons, the ice cream itself bursts with freshness and rounds out with a tart flavor and little bits of pie crust. The Cheese Cake flavor follows the same type of dessert-straight-to-your-cone feel. The taste is impeccable, synonymous with your favorite cheese cake in a colder yet more delightful form. Yogurt, both Pistachio, and Apricot capture the essence of the Mediterranean. You start with the tart yet soothing taste of the yogurt, then your palate hits a soft earthy pistachio, and while you come up for air you get a burst of the sweet apricot chunk. The yogurt ice cream is not sweet, a mixture of plain and tart essences from the lactic acids, with a combination of refreshing and succulent while mixed with ingredients such as roasted pine nuts, bananas, and almonds. At any given time there are several of these wonderful yogurt flavors available. 10 Spices combine American pepper, nutmeg, hell, cinnamon, ginger, tonka bean, vanilla, anise, licorice, and clove to create a light, aromatic and soothing ice cream that will remind each and every one of a fond memory. Nothing is classic about the French Vanilla -extracts of the deep flavors of four kinds of vanilla beans from Italy are carefully blended, leaving a creamy and luxurious flavor.
Although as much of the fruit or nut is used as possible, only the optimum parts of each ingredient is are used to achieve the end flavor. The oranges in the Chocolate/Orange ice cream include the peel as it is infused with sugar to make syrup combined with the delicate chocolate ice cream. Itay delicately peels the skin of nuts, where the flavor is too bitter and uses the lime rind infused with lime juice to create a punch of aroma in the lime sorbet. All of the employees are trained in creating the ice cream, and gracefully decorating the finished product. The employees are the taste testers. Itay buys the Oreo Cookies for the cookies and cream in the individual 4-pack size. Though more expensive, this way freshness is assured.
Vaniglia now has over 8 branches, and after 10 years of business, Itay still ensures that each branch is visited at least twice every week. He checks on the smells, flavors, design, cleanliness of the each establishment to make sure everything lives up to the highest standards.
Though homemade goodness is cherished, there is no fear in keeping pace with new technology. Obviously the intent is to use all natural ingredients, including stabilizers (benefiber to keep the thickness – kiwi has natural stabilizers with nothing added to alter flavors), milk and cream, 100% natural sugars as well as the antifreeze (to achieve the correct hardness). Surprisingly enough ice cream can contain a lot of air, so pumping air into the mix produces the velvety consistency that makes us swoon. Of course that chill factor comes from water, and ice cream usually contains around 40% water. Itay uses technology to make sure that all these complex ingredients are mixed thoroughly. And since Itay doesn’t stop at 80% he claims he mixes his ice cream or sorbet down to the microbes, making the final product all the more creamy.
Whether you are feeling adventurous enough to experiment with your taste buds, or stick to your favorites – you can be sure that the ingredients in your ice cream at Vaniglia are of the highest quality, and each batch of fresh ice cream has been made with the love and care of a small homemade shop. Whether it’s Itay telling the farmer which branch he wants his oranges from, or that he makes sure only 4 cookies are crumbled at a time, you are indulging in one of the most perfected desserts in Tel Aviv.
Insider Tip: Itay knows a very special farmer in the north of Israel who is growing some of the only crops of boysenberry plants that this country has ever seen. While many Israelis are not familiar with the marvelous fruit ( רעי רגרג ), we can expect a refined batch of boysenberry sorbet coming this summer to a Vaniglia near you.