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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.
We think we can all agree that Italian cuisine has an uncanny ability to bring jot to those who eat it; with pizza, pasta, risotto and exquisite breads, what’s not to love? The amounts of Italian restaurants in Cairo continue to grow and one of the newest competitors in the battle is Il Loft - an eatery whose claims of authenticity come largely from the their commitment to using imported goods.
Located inside Arkan Mall in Sheikh Zayed, Il Loft stands out with an industrial and rustic interior design that will definitely grab your attention. Everything from the hanging light fixtures, to the pizza oven and brick-walling, to little decorative details such as quirkily arranged rolling pins and cheese wheels, come together for an excellent ambiance. Besides the rather unattractive chairs, it all captures a sophisticated yet casual Italian atmosphere. As for the outdoor area, it’ll be great for an early lunch with summer ahead.
While browsing the menu, the waiter arrived with complimentary Italian flatbread and a small plate of shredded parmesan cheese with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea but for those that like sweet, tart and salty flavours together, it’s a nice opener.
For our appetisers, we went with Parmigiana Di Melanzane (59LE) – a dish that brings together delicious layers grilled eggplant, melted buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese, all topped with flavourful tomato sauce and fresh basil. The eggplant absorbed all the delicious and delicate flavours, but sadly the bottom layer was slightly burnt and had a bitter taste.
Moving to the first main, we started with the Costoletta Di Vitello Alla Milanese (95LE) – a Milanese-style veal cutlet. Served with perfectly fried garlic potato cubes, the breaded veal cutlet was topped with fresh arugula, cherry tomato and cheese shavings. The veal was, unfortunately, a bit dry and overcooked, while also lacking flavour, plus the crust wasn’t as crispy as we expected.
We couldn’t visit an Italian place without trying pizza, so we went with the Funghi Pizza (55LE). With its puffy edge and crispy yet chewy centre, the dough alone deserves a standing ovation. We were similarly pleased with the toppings, as the tomato sauce was well-seasoned and the kitchen was generous with the fresh mushroom and fior di latte mozzarella.
We finished the meal with classic Italian dessert, Tiramisu (42LE). Served in a V glass, the tiramisu consists of super creamy mascarpone mixture, with a spot-on amount of sugar, and ladyfinger biscuits soaked in coffee. Sadly, it was too soggy and almost dissolved into a musch, while the ratio of the mascarpone mixture to the ladyfingers was off. Poor execution aside, the flavours individually were out of this world.
Overall, our visit to IL LOFT was just a little short of being great; the ambiance was remarkable and the service was terrific, but several small-to-unforgivable mistakes in the execution let down the experience at the time of our visit.