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Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.
Del Vento: Quick-Stop Italian in Nasr City's Genena Mall
If you’re familiar with malls’ food courts during or around lunch time, then you probably have an idea of how crowded they can get. Luckily, you seldom become involved in a chair hunt at the new food court in Genena Mall; which provides a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the mall to choose a meal from the handful of fast food vendors. One of these choices is the Italian restaurant Del Vento.
Though Del Vento’s menu is as predictable as the next Italian restaurant - packed with sandwiches and salads, pizzas, and pastas - they are a little more diverse when it comes to the desserts and drinks section. Fruit smoothies (14LE), frappes (16LE) and hot drinks make Del Vento as much a quick–stop café as a restaurant.
In a dark wood and olive coloured interior, ordering at Del Vento was simple and fast. The food was neatly packed, though it might be worth to note that their paper bags don’t hold up that well for take-outs. For an original Del Vento experience, we opted for their signature mini pizza (12LE) along with the fried calamari starter (12LE) and a chicken mozzarella Panini (17LE). Though the toppings of the mysterious Del Vento pizza weren’t clarified on the menu, it turns out that it’s mainly tomato sauce and cheese with hotdog slices and it tasted delicious enough to make it the restaurant’s special.
The fried calamari, however, lacked a bit of taste despite having a rather strong aroma. Be careful as it comes with extra hot dipping sauce. The Panini was really the highlight of the meal, which came with a small portion of French fries, though the chicken was a bit too ordinary to be noticed and, like the calamari, required adding salt and pepper.
Their food might need a little tweaking here and there but at least the pizza was good. Take another look at the menu after your meal because Del Vento proves promising with its many dessert choices; from blueberry cheesecake (16LE) to Nutella and banana crepe (13LE) and a choice of milkshakes. It’s probably safe to say that if there was to be a next visit to Del Vento, it would just be for their desserts.
The lack of decent river-side restaurants in Cairo always astounds us; it appears that many establishments rely on the view to do all the hard work. Italian eatery, Lino’s, at Zamalek’s Club33 seems to follow suit with an incredible view, contrasted with shabby decor. Fortunately their Ramadan decorations - jolly khameya print table cloths and lanterns - took some of the attention away from the otherwise weathered furniture.
The minimum charge of 75LE per person can be made up from either their al a carte choices, or their Ramadan set menu. Their sohour menu (75LE) is a simple, traditional Egyptian, six-dish ensemble, with a couple of variations for each dish whilst their usual menu boasts salads and sandwiches to meat dishes, pizza and pasta.
We ordered one set sohour menu complete with Greek salad, cheese and tomato, Alexandrian foul, tehina, taameya and an omelette as well as a lasagne (45LE) and a pollo parmaggiano (69LE). Disappointingly, the lasagne fell short of our expectations by lacking an authentic, rich tomato taste. Likewise, the chicken in the parmaggiano was slightly rubbery with a potent cheese topping, and came with a side of undercooked pasta rolled in an unspectacular white sauce.
The generously sized sohour dishes quickly filled up our table and eased our dissatisfaction with simple, pleasant tasting food. The greek salad was fresh and crunchy, with a decent amount of bitter feta cheese and herbs, whilst the tehina and cheese and tomato paste were creamy with the latter being a sweeter dip for the average-at-best beladi bread. Our Alexandrian foul was a tasty base for our own seasoning, the taameya was both crispy and soft at the same time and the omelette was effortlessly flavoursome.
Not included in the sohour menu price, we ordered one sweet, strawberry slushy as well as an unsuspectingly milky cantaloupe juice which would be better grouped under the term milkshake rather than fruit juice. Several different sodas (11LE-25LE) were delivered too, served chilled with glasses of ice.
For dessert we ordered one chocolate cake (26.50LE) and a strawberry cheesecake (32LE). However, soon after ordering, we cancelled the chocolate cake to which we were told even if we don’t eat it, there was no way of taking it off the bill. Despite the dispute that followed, we moved on to the strawberry cheesecake which was delectable and deliciously velvety but a little thin on the biscuit base, although that didn’t matter much.
Lino’s offer an uncomplicated, no-frills Sohour experience with reasonably priced, simple food options and a beautiful, breezy Nile view.