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Sheikh Zayed, Cairo, Egypt.
La Scala: El Gouna’s Popular Italian Diner Comes to Cairo's Arkan Mall
With its outstanding selection of food covering Greek, Mexican to Swiss and Italian cuisines, El Gouna is known to be one of the best places for food enthusiasts. As soon as we heard the news that Gouna's Italian restaurant and pizzeria, La Scala, had opened their second branch at Sheikh Zayed's Arkan Mall, we could hardly wait to try it out.
La Scala has a simple interior design with dominant black white and red colours, simple seating arrangements, two prep stations, black and white portraits and an overall calming vibe. While the indoor area was very hot and the AC didn't work, the weather at the outdoor area was fantastic – except a little ruined by an army of annoying flies.
We kicked things off with Insalata Tropicale (40LE); cubes of Gouda cheese, chicken, pineapples, peaches, oranges, bananas and cocktail sauce, the latter basically tasting like plain yogurt. The combination seemed an interesting one, but the flavours were unbalanced and it seemed like the Gouda cheese and chicken accidently fell into a fruit salad bowl.
We then decided to stick to pure Italian dishes with Spaghetti Con Vitello (195LE) and La Carbonara (89LE) which were far from disappointing. The former came in the form of five pieces of perfectly cooked veal medallions lying over a bed of perfectly cooked spaghetti with generous amount of fresh sautéed mushrooms. The exquisite mushroom sauce had an earthy flavour to it and would've been flawless had the veal not lacked seasoning.
Aside from the off-putting slices of red pepper and that the otherwise well-cooked bacon was cut into huge pieces, the spaghetti of the La Carbonara was cooked to perfection and the whole dish was rich in flavours, while the consistency of the sauce was on-point.
We finished our meal with Nutella Pizza with Bananas (27LE). As a soft and thin pizza crust smothered with Nutella and slices of bananas, this dessert was just moreproof that chocolate and bananas are one of the most underrated kitchen couples.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at La Scala, from the delicious food to the friendly staff. The restaurant delivers a promising start in Cairo. Let's just hope they keep it up - the hardest challenge of all.
Even though we have an endless amount of Italian restaurants in Cairo, we can all agree that only a few are able to do it justice – to make it truly authentic. Not only does Tavolino achieve this, but it goes a step further.
From the outside, the Zamalek restaurant, which is located off of Aboul Feda Streey, might seem very small, but it’s surprisingly spacious. Interior wise, it has a very simple yet chic appearance; white brick walls with a touch of wood, black and white frames, and triangular mirrors stand out, despite the almost overly yellow lighting.
Moving to food, we started our meal with Cannelloni (70LE) from the restaurant’s ‘New Italian Cuisine’ menu, which adds twists to Italian classics. Six pieces of perfectly cooked cannelloni are stuffed with chicken and spinach, covered with melted mozzarella cheese and then topped with marinated tomato – similar to marinara sauce – and pesto sauce. A side of creamy gorgonzola sauce added a nutty flavour with a fantastic deep aftertaste and the dish showed Tavolino to be masters of art of flavour matching.
Another item we tried from the ‘New Italian Cuisine’ menu was The Tenderloin in the Wood (235LE); a perfect medium-well tenderloin steak laying on a phyllo-like pastry that’s filled with sautéed mushrooms, spinach and onions, and served with sweet garlic sauce and an exquisite sweet and savoury blueberry-and-onion jam. This dish left us speechless; not only was the steak on its own bursting with Italian herb flavours, but the addition of the crunchy texture from the mushroom pocket with the unique sweetness of the jam merged with the sweet garlic sauce created an outstanding dish.
Deciding to go back to the basics with our last choice, we went with Risotto Alla Pescatora (120LE). Rich, creamy, and well-seasoned, it had spot-on al dente texture; mixed with well-cooked shrimps and mussels, the dish was close to perfect, but for the overcooked, mushy crab and rubbery calamari.
Another thing that kept Tavolino from getting a perfect score was the fact that, at the time of our visit, only the Ice Cream & Sorbet (50LE), which is 3 scoops of Movenpick ice cream, was available.
But that was just a side note to a great meal; we were surprised by Tavolino’s one-of-a-kind flavours, particularly those on the ‘New Italian Cuisine’ menu, which certainly helps separate it from the crowd with a unique identity. Tavolino isn’t just another Italian restaurant.