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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.
Having been mpressed by the décor, but not so much the food, during our first visit to to Tutti Matti, we decided to see if the restaurant had stepped up its game. Situated on the busy Road 9 in Maadi, the location could be a pro or a con depending on your preference.
If you’re a fan of the younger café-going, shisha-smoking crowd, this is the place for you, but if you prefer a quieter venue, with less hassle in parking, you may find coming here a bit of an inconvenience.
When a venue explicitly labels itself as Italian restaurant, it’s probably cause for concern; Italian cuisine is the single most badly executed in Egypt. Our previous review tried the pizza and a sandwich, so we thought we would go for some main courses to really judge their potential.
We sat in the relatively small indoor area, as the outddor area is rather loud. As mentioned earlier, the decor is very aesthetically pleasing with white-washed brick walls and wood panel floors. The waiter handed us our menus and we were left to decide.
Everything on the menu is written in Italian. This is another bad sign. After some browsing, we opted for Bruschetta (22LE) from the appetisers, Pollo Ricotta e Spinaci (64LE) and Pan di Salmone Scottati (119LE) from the main courses.
Served first, the Bruschetta didn’t particularly stand out. The olive oil caused the pretty average bread to become soggy, and the diced tomato toppings didn’t really add anything to the mix.
The Pollo Ricotta e Spinaci consists of two chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese, and is served with a side of spaghetti with a pink sauce. First, the stuffing was quite scarce. The chicken itself was unevenly cooked leaving some of it hard and chewy and the rest slightly raw. The spaghetti with pink sauce was simply regular red tomato sauce that was very greasy, and not particularly tasty.
The Salmon, served with vegetable tagliatelle and crushed potatoes with herbs, was a little on the dry side. What should be thin, coloured tape-like pasta was instead shredded carrots and zucchini. The green coloured mashed potatoes, while looking strange, didn’t quite taste like anything.
Thinking there would be pasta with the salmon dish, the main course left us hungry so we made the mistake of ordering dessert - Tiramisu (39LE) to be exact. Far from ladyfingers or mascarpone cheese, the tiramisu was basically cake, whipped cream and an almost inedible coffee syrup; absolutely terrible.
No particular part of our meal was good. As feared, the strongly forced Italian identity and subpar execution of even the simplest Italian dishes isn't inviting to another visit. As our last review stated, this is just another cafe. Calling it a restaurant is a bit of a stretch.