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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Pomodoro: Possibly the Best Seafood Pasta in Downtown Cairo
Delicious spaghetti in clam sauce is but wishful thinking in Cairo, right? Think again. A hidden restaurant inconspicuously located off Bab El Louk and nearby El Horreya serves the best seafood pasta south of Alexandria. Two years ago, Cairo 360 visited Pomodoro when it was just a baladi street eatery barely occupying more than a hole in the wall. Since then, the restaurant has changed, but it still serves up one of the best seafood meals money can buy in Cairo.
After buying a much more spacious adjoining storefront, Pomodoro shed the tiny plastic chairs and miniature ahwa tables for much more trendy leather chairs and glass tabletops. The red and black colour scheme, warm atmosphere and enticing aromas combine to make an ambiance that is not altogether unlike an upscale pizzeria. Word on the street is that the owner studied culinary arts in Italy, and furthermore he insists on hand cooking each and every plate that comes out of his kitchen. Whatever the truth may be, the attention to detail in the kitchen has certainly satisfied many hungry patrons.
As one can only expect with the burgeoning of a successful business, there have been some modifications to the menu and prices over the last two years. The simple menu contains pasta dishes with either seafood or meat toppings in addition to offering a few sandwiches. The seafood pasta plate starts at 25LE and goes up to 50LE depending on size as well as your choice of ingredients which include calamari, crab, shrimp and clams. We ordered the 35LE shrimp pasta and it was delivered piping hot with shrimp scampi smothered in rich, peppery tomato sauce complete with four good-sized crawfish on the side. The generous portions, herbs, spices and fresh vegetables make for nothing less than seafood heaven. If you cannot decide on ingredients, simply order the seafood pasta combo, and you will receive a smorgasbord of seafood cuisine.
Operating within the same price range, chicken and meat pasta combos are available for those patrons who may not be in the mood for fishy plates. Those looking to avoid meats altogether will enjoy the hearty vegetable pasta (25LE) comprised of carrots, peas, onions, zucchinis, and tomatoes. Still others looking for lighter orders or lunchtime options will find seafood (20LE), shrimp (20LE) and chicken (15LE) sandwiches.
Though the heaping portion of seafood pasta for 15LE that could be ordered two years ago is no longer available, this should by no means discourage you from visiting Pomodoro. You may have to fork out a few more pounds, but you will not have to eat in the street nor use your shirt cuff as a napkin. With a comfortable atmosphere, plenty of napkins, and most importantly scrumptious seafood pasta, Pomodoro remains in a league of its own when it comes to seafood in Cairo.
Over the last few years, it’s been really hard to find an authentic Italian restaurant - which is understandable. Real, authentic Italian flavours are an acquired taste, the process of making it takes time and requires fresh ingredients. However, there are a select few restaurants that refuse to adapt to local tastes – one of which is Bella.
Located inside the Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Bella’s ambiance is on the classy side as you’d expect of a hotel restaurant, with wood and marble in the interior, a great view of the Nile and excellent level of service.
While ordering our food, we were welcomed with a complementary thin-crust pizza topped with a fresh and light pizza sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. Moments later, the waiter came with an irresistible collection of Italian loaves, but the soft hot dog loaf stood out with exquisite flavours from the tomato sauce and the green pepper which complimented the hot dog perfectly.
After the impressive welcoming, we kicked things off with a Caprese Salad (125LE) as an appetiser. Composed of tomato slices, fresh basil, semi-soft gooey buffalo mozzarella balls, and crispy pesto bread, all drizzled with olive oil and more pesto for a bolder basil flavour, the ingredients were fresh and good quality – which is what anyone would ask for in this simple dish.
Moving to the mains, we ordered ‘Today’s Special’ (400LE) which was Rib Eye Steak with Mushroom Risotto. The perfectly medium-cooked steak itself was a showstopper and came with a sweet jus sauce, which is usually made of soy sauce, garlic and the dripping fat from the cooked steak - YUM. The mushroom risotto, meanwhile, was just as good; it had a spot-on texture, super creamy, generous amount of fresh mushrooms and a hint of truffle oil that took the risotto to a new level of deliciousness.
We also tried Salmon Fillet (280LE) and it was far from disappointing. Served with roasted potato slices and garlicky sautéed spinach, the moist and flaky grilled salmon fillet – boasting fantastic grill marks – was bursting with sweet flavours from the balsamic glaze. This dish represents simplicity at its finest.
Even though it’s a Spanish dessert, the Catalana (80LE) – a Spanish version of crème brulee – is actually very popular in Italy, so don’t be surprised when you find it in any top Italian restaurant. The dessert comes in the form of a glass filled with slightly dense and not-too-sweet custard, topped with cubes of cinnamon-infused pear and slices of date. Despite missing the ‘brulee’ part, the Catalana had great flavours.
Overall, our experience at Bella was close to flawless. Fantastic service, classy ambiance, and delicious authentic Italian flavours all in one, quite price, package.