July 16, 2024
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Rabica, a Cozy Teaneck Trattoria, Has a New Owner

On a cool, rainy day in November, two friends braved the weather to have lunch together at Rabica. “I come for the delicious food and warm service,” said Yocheved Bateman of Teaneck, as she ate her “amazing” spinach ravioli. Elana Winslow, also from Teaneck, agreed as she enjoyed her salmon burger. “There is always a good variety on the menu. It’s a nice, cozy place to meet a friend.”

Rabica is that kind of place: troubles fade away, and wellbeing takes over as you relax with your selection from the extensive menu of sandwiches, pastas, salads, soups and desserts. The food is described on the menu as “fine Italian cuisine.” But “international” would be just as apt a description. The chalav Yisrael dairy menu includes dishes such as French onion soup and Israeli-style shakshuka.

Opened 15 years ago, Rabica has been under the ownership of Yossie Ahronov since the spring. Ahronov said he has always enjoyed being around a kitchen. An Israeli native, he used to cook for his platoon while in the army. When Ahronov retired from the jewelry business 10 years ago, he began to get restless; retirement was not for him. He wanted to do something new, and looked for a restaurant to buy. He loves food and people. And especially he enjoys making people happy with food. He learned that Rabica was available and he went to visit. After talking to customers, he knew this was the right choice for him; everyone told him the food was great.

Ahronov has made some tweaks: freshening up the walls with new bold color and eye-catching food photographs taken by his wife’s daughter-in-law. He added new serving dishes, added mood lighting, and made various other service upgrades. The menu is the same with a few additions, like fried branzino, a whole fish.

The biggest innovation in Rabica is Ahronov himself. A constant presence, he makes sure service is friendly yet efficient. He loves talking to customers and making sure they’re comfortable. He couldn’t resist bringing two pastries over to Bateman and Winslow before their meals arrived. “People need good food; and when they are happy, they come back,” Ahronov said. He encourages customers to tell him if they need anything.

“If you have any complaints, don’t be embarrassed to tell me; I want to correct them,” he advises. “But don’t be a nudnik,” he laughs. Ahronov cleared up a pressing question for those of us who are well acquainted with the restaurant. The name is derived from Arabica, an African type of quality coffee, and pronounced ‘Ra Bee Ka.’

Last week I had lunch with a friend at Rabica. We shared a Greek salad and a grilled veggie and mozzarella sandwich with fries. The server graciously split our order in the kitchen, which was greatly appreciated. The Greek salad was a well-executed classic with a generous portion of feta cheese and tangy vinaigrette dressing. The sandwich was served on Italian bread, perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Seasoned eggplant and zucchini contrasted nicely with piquant grilled red peppers; melted mozzarella is always delightfully comforting. The shoestring-style fries were crisp and lightly salted with just the right amount of chewiness. Good fries are not to be taken for granted. We ended our meal with a latte that had skim milk foamed to a whipped cream-like texture and a taste to match.

Rabica, under supervision of the RCBC, is located at 192A West Englewood Avenue in Teaneck, and is open for lunch, dinner and an hour after Shabbos. Groups are welcome during regular hours and for private events by pre-arrangement. Rabica does not charge a separate group rental fee. For Rabica’s complete menu, hours and directions, visit www.rabicafe.com.

By Bracha Schwartz

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