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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.
With so few restaurants in Cairo offering a consistent balance of good fod and good atmosphere, any restaurants that threatens to do so is music to Cairo 360 ears. The latest competitor in Heliopolis is Firestone; one of three restaurants, including Byblos and Rossini, situated in a small food court of sorts on the quiet Omar Ebn El Khatab Street.
Firestone specialises in wood fired pizza, but also serves a range of soups, salads and pastas, as well as a selection of limited main course options.
The food court itself is rather elegant, utilising a small make-shift waterfall and plenty of greenery. With a dominantly white and reddish-pink colour scheme and mostly plastic and glass furniture, Firestone is both aesthetically and physically comfortable, though the atmosphere could have done without the pop music playlist.
With drinks and dessert menus already on the table, the waiter handed us a larger, one page menu containing all the food. First, there’s the pizza section, ranging between 50LE and 70LE with additional toppings ranging between 10LE and 20LE.
From the appetiser options, we went for fried meat balls (38LE), The four balls served were fried in a batter and came with a barbeque sauce. The meat itself was rather bland, through the seasoning was pleasingly sharp and gave it a tang.
From the pizza menu, we opted for a Diavola Pizza, made with grilled sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and fresh tomato sauce (58LE). The pizza was very decent in size and the fresh ingredients tasted excellent, but the edges of the pizza were burnt from the wood oven, hurting the presentation and adding a scent of burnt dough.
From the main courses, we chose the Firestone Fillet (84 LE); a grilled beef fillet with mushroom sauce and spicy capers, in addition to sides of sautéed vegetables and potato wedges. This was probably Firestone’s best dish, and well worthy of holding the restaurant’s name. A generous portion of tender, fresh and cooked-exactly-as-ordered meat topped with an untraditional mushroom sauce with capers that was ingeniously put together and surprisingly tasty.
The dessert menu contains very standard international menu options, except for one; the Gelato Al Forno (32 LE) – ice cream served on a warm, freshly baked cake covered in a layer of biscotti and stuffed with fresh fruit. While it was extremely generous in portion, enough to feed 2-3 people, it was also extremely sweet, so be warned if you don’t have that strong a sweet tooth.
The service was great, the food was delicious and quickly served, the restaurant was extremely clean and the waiters didn’t hover, making themselves available only when needed. You won’t find any the next steps of culinary evolution at Firestone, but you certainly won’t leave disappointed.