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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Tutti Matti: New Italian Restaurant in Maadi
The newest addition to Road 9 in Maadi comes in the form of an Italian restaurant and café. Located on the increasingly popular stretch on the usually less-explored territories beyond McDonald’s, Tutti Matti seems to offer more than it delivers.
Having been under the impression that it was a new Italian ‘restaurant’ we decided to go for dinner. At first glance it became obvious that we were mistaken. The, more appropriately called, café takes up a decently-sized space and has a larger outdoor space than indoor one. Though the interior is aesthetically pleasing – fresh and modern with whitewashed wood and brick-wall detailing exuding characteristics that suggest ‘quality’ and ‘hipness’ – it is ultimately just another cafe.
The indoor area is simple with fair wood, lightweight tables and chairs, a bar/service area and a self-serve fridge with sandwiches and drinks. We preferred to sit outside because it was quite noisy and hectic otherwise. The outside area, which is larger, was considerably pleasant. A large arched doorway, slate floors and seating among trees; it’s almost like you’ve escaped the dust and havoc of Cairo. The menus match the overall style, looking like a blackboard framed in wood. The cuisine while defined as ‘Italian’, includes pretty much everything.
From the choices of salads, soups, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, meat and fish dishes, we settled on an antipasti to share for a starter, a pizza and a sandwich for main courses. The antipasti (55LE) were enjoyable enough with cheese sticks, Parmesan gratings and mozzarella with a side of tomatoes. There was also bresaola that tasted like smoked beef. No severe complaints here, apart from the fact that they served it with the main courses. We ordered the Sicilian pizza (41LE) that comes with an olive tapenade, mozzarella and dry herbs. While we ate most of it, there was no olive tapenade, only olives and the specifically added mozzarella was nonexistent; it was good but nothing more exciting than a pizza you’d order by a hotel pool. The bistecca di manzo sandwich (45LE) was quite unimpressive. It came on focaccia bread that was dry and crumbly, yet soggy at the same time. The meat tasted stale and the promised mustard was nowhere to be found. The fresh tangerine juice (18LE), perfectly tangy, was a hit – unlike the bland iced tea (14LE). Looking forward to the dessert portion of the meal, we were disappointed to hear it was still not available.
Tutti Matti is a relatively expensive restaurant/café, with pizzas for 40LE-50LE, starters ranging the same prices and meat dishes going up to 120LE. At these prices, one would expect outstanding dishes and original recipes. The last time we checked, Italian restaurants don’t usually serve hamburgers and crème brûlée, and for marketing itself as such, we felt somewhat underwhelmed. The interior may deceive one into thinking that this is the ultimate in dining experience, but the food flattered to deceive.We can only hope that since it's been open for just a little over a week, there's still time to change our minds.
The Riviera Oasis complex by Cairo airport hosts an unruly amount of dining venues, and an even more unruly amount of Heliopolis residents. The various cafes share the open grounds, and patrons of each meld into one sea of eaters, drinkers and smokers. It’s really quite the maze to get around/
Carpaccio is one of the few out-and-out restaurants cut from the same cloth as the other branches; the dark sleek interior and diverse clientele.
On the large menu, the formaggio fonduta (36LE) is described as an oven baked mix of smoked cheese, mozzarella and parmesan served with Italian bread. The fondue was thick and tasty, but was almost certainly Egyptian roumi cheese. It was served with three bite-sized pieces of cold garlic bread and several bread sticks. It was so little, that we ordered a separate side dish of garlic bread which never even came.
The menu described the pacific pizza (45LE) as a baked pizza with salmon, sour cream and dill. The base was akin to pitta bread, we suspect that the faint white cream was actually Philadelphia cheese spread and we couldn’t taste any dill whatsoever. To top it all off, several large pieces of smoked salmon were slapped on top with no consideration of placement. So when it arrived cut up into segments, some slices were almost completely covered in salmon, while others had barely any. The whole thing arrived lukewarm, but the salmon tasted fresh and was the only positive on a desperately disappointing dish.
The penne siciliane (31LE) comes cooked with a tomato sauce, eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers, and topped with parmesan. While the pasta was cooked well and the sauce had rich and spicy taste to it, the vegetables promised by the menu were pretty sparse. The large serving also didn’t come with parmesan as promised, and so it was tough to get through on account of its sheer blandness.
Saddened by the experienced, we chose not to risk further disappointment by ordering a dessert, although we were tempted by the 15LE per-scoop Hagen Dasz ice cream.
The food wasn’t even the main gripe; the service was pretty shocking. The kitchen is on the ground floor, and so that’s where all the staff were stationed. We noticed that all the diners in our section on the upper floor were struggling to find staff and get their attention. We might as well have eaten the 160LE that we spent on the three dishes and two drinks.