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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.
For years, we’ve heard many a Cairene complain about the lack of real good pizza at restaurants in Cairo – we’ve all endured a restaurant that doesn't quite get the difference between pizza dough and bread dough at one time or another. But worry not; international restaurant chain, Rossopomodoro, has come from Naples – via 120 other branches around the world – to rescue us all.
Given that Naples is known for the being home of Italian pizza, it's safe to assume that this Italian franchise, located in Downtown Katameya Mall, would serve decent pizza; luckily, we were not disappointed.
The casual dining experience of Rossopomodoro comes with a decor that features a white wooden interior, various writings on the wall and a pleasant open kitchen. It’s not a fancy restaurant by any means, but dining at Rossopomodoro may well be the closest you will get to eating in Naples itself.
Our first fifteen minutes there were a little discouraging, since the prices were peculiarly handwritten on the menus and the waitresses were done-up like 50's air hostesses. Despite that, the items on the menu grabbed our attention and it took us quite some time to decide on what to order, before testing the restaurant’s pizza; margherita (49LE), four-cheese (59LE) and vegetarian (53LE).
The margherita pizza was nothing short of a great; its crust was tender with a little crisp to it and the dough itself was flavourful without tasting like flour. The tomato sauce tasted of fresh tomatoes and was somewhat pleasingly sweet, while the mozzarella was remarkably creamy. Overall, the pizza was seasoned well with a salty undercurrent and was far from being greasy.
Topped with caciocavallo cheese, buffalo mozzarella, blue cheese and smoked provolone cheese, the flavours of the four-cheese pizza were perfectly balanced and the stronger cheeses didn't dominate our palate. The vegetarian pizza came topped with fresh eggplant, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, parmesan cheese and basil, and again showed great balance of flavours.
Since it wouldn’t be fair to visit an Italian restaurant without trying their pastas, we ordered a Pennetta (52LE). This penne dish is served with cherry tomatoes, fried eggplant, zucchini and Pecorino cheese, and was just as flavourful as the pizzas. The ingredients were all as fresh and appetising, but the amount of vegetables and cheese were a little on the sparse side.
For dessert, we shared a delicious Calde Calde (15LE); three pieces of fried pizza dough, topped with Nutella chocolate and vanilla sugar. The saltiness of the dough made for a nice contrast with the toppings and is perfect for chocolate lovers.
Though the level of service was questionable – the waiters were very casual and too familiar with customers – Rossopomodoro's food outshone any shortcomings.