I always enjoy hearing interesting family stories related to the restaurants I visit, and Dona Rosa has one of the better family stories I’ve heard.
It all started some 72 years ago in Argentina, when Marcus and Rosa Rautfteisch decided to purchase a1500 acres from the Baron Hirsch. Together with their 12 employees and family members, the Rautfteisch’s built an impressive farm cultivating wheat and growing beef and livestock. Twice a day, work on the farm would be brought to a halt and all of the members would gather around the table and indulge in a wide variety of traditional delicious dishes prepared by Rosa. Out of respect and gratitude, members of the farm began referring to Rosa as “Donia Rosa” after the Spanish title usually reserved for men: Don.
66 years later, in an old Arab house situated in the picturesque village of Ein Hod, the Rautfteisch’s 2 grandsons decided to open an Argentinean restaurant in tribute to their grandmother’s cuisine.
Overlooking the main square in Ein Hod, Dona Rosa, which is designed as a traditional Argentinean style farmhouse, offers a glimpse at what life might have looked like on their grandparents’ farm. The menu at Dona Rosa includes a wide variety of dishes including: fish, seafood, salads, pasta and of course a whole lot of grilled meat dishes.
The meat, the coal and even the grill men are imported from Argentina in order to provide a truly authentic and traditional experience. Following the recommendations of Amir, the friendly manager, we ordered the veal sweetbreads (mollejas) and the shrimp in white wine, garlic, butter and herbs. The sweetbreads were grilled to perfection; moist and succulent, they were served alongside a lemony chimichuri sauce that cut through the saltiness of the meat. The generous portion of shrimp was tasty as well and the delicious rich sauce ensured that we left the skillet in which they were served wiped clean.
After holding off on the house bread and dips (sun dried tomatoes and olive tapanade) we were ready for the main course (or at least we thought we were). A miniature grill arrived at our table, holding what was seemed to be over a kilo (2.2 pounds) of various grilled meats. The entrecote steak (one of my favorite cuts) was excellent, perfect grill marks and pink and juicy within. Good meat doesn’t need much seasoning, a pinch of sea salt and coarse black pepper definitely get the job done. The asado (traditional Argentinean grilling technique on an open fire) was a real challenge: huge chunks of meat grilled slowly over 6 hours gave the meat unique texture and flavor. Another sip of the red Malbec wine, another bite of the delicious meat, and I finally I gave up, leaving a small piece of asado on the grill.
Luckily I saved just enough room for dessert. While I am usually a big fan of alfajores, a traditional Argentinean cookie, the ones prepared at Dona Rosa were a little disappointing and in my opinion the dough wasn’t quite the right texture. The second dessert was the crema la banana, layers of biscuit crumbs, caramelized bananas all topped with whipped cream and homemade dulce de leche. So simple, yet addictive, I already made it twice at home since my visit.
Dona Rosa is much more than the usual theme restaurants scattered throughout the country. The family tradition, the vast wooden beams that line the ceiling, the old Argentinean photographs, the polite service and homey country style atmosphere surpass the anticipated kitsch and make you feel like you have been transported to an Argentinean Hacienda.