It’s rare for me to devote a whole post to a single restaurant. But the Anna Italian Café in Jerusalem is no ordinary eating place. Like many restaurants, it serves excellent food. Like others, it has a great ambience, and is set in a historic building. But what makes it different is that it is a social enterprise, providing work and training for young people from underprivileged backgrounds.
Eating at the Anna Italian Café
I was at the Anna Italian Café with a group of travel writers exploring the Greater Jerusalem region following the recent TBEX conference. It was the best meal I had in Jerusalem, with plate after plate of delicious, and beautifully presented, appetisers, salads, pizzas, pasta and risotto. And, of course, wine and desserts. Although we were catered as a group, similar fare was available on the à la carte menu, at moderate prices (not always the case in Jerusalem!).
Anna is a kosher dairy restaurant, meaning that the menu includes fish but not meat. Apart from two fish dishes, everything we were served was suitable for vegetarians. And the staff were unfazed by a request for vegan food, producing vegan salads, pizza and much more.
The Anna Ticho House
The restaurant is inside the Ticho House Museum. This was once the home of Anna Ticho, an artist who died in 1980 and left her house to the Israel Museum. (Because we ate in the evening, the museum was closed and we didn’t get a chance to look around. However, it would be worth a visit, with paintings by Anna herself, contemporary art exhibitions and other collections.)
Ticho House was built by a wealthy Arab in 1864. It was one of the first houses in Jerusalem that was constructed outside the walls of the old city. You can still see vestiges of the original building in the restaurant, with its vaulted ceilings and separate rooms, including the private room that we ate in.
The Dualis Social Enterprise
Anna describes itself as a “social restaurant”. It has partnered with Dualis, a social investment fund that aims to give opportunities to disadvantaged youths. The restaurant gives them work and vocational training. At the same time it teaches essential personal skills.
Part of Anna’s mission statement is to provide “the atmosphere, quality and excellence of an haute cuisine at affordable prices”. It certainly succeeds: if I ever go back to Jerusalem, I will eat there again!
Thanks to Anna Italian Café and the Jerusalem Convention Bureau for providing us with an excellent meal.