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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
La Rosa: Old School Italian Restaurant in Maadi
The small interior is made up of old Chianti bottles now covered in candle-wax and framed pictures of Rome and Venice. The owner of La Rosa is known to have spent years living in Italy, only to come home and open a small plot for himself. The atmosphere is casual with just as many Egyptian couples dining as expatriates. Bring a bottle, bouchon free, and they’ll even wrap it in a checkered red and white napkin. It’s a small sort of place where you get to see every pizza go into the oven.
The Pizza Primavera, (34LE) comes with artichokes, spinach, peppers, mushrooms and olives. We also ordered the Pizza La Playa with onions and chillies (22LE), to which we added pineapple and arugula, bringing it to 32LE. It was delicious; both spicy and sweet. Both pizzas came out bubbling and cheesy. And as many toppings as there were on the Primavera, it still somehow kept its shape, even in the face of getting eaten.
Their pizzas are large, with a thin crust, crispy enough to hold a slice in the air without flopping, but still chewy. The toppings are fresh and piled high (try the arugula). But the best is that La Rosa’s pizzas range from just 19LE to 34LE. And if you want to add something, extra cheese will set you back 4LE, vegetables 5LE, and meat 7LE. If you aren’t in the mood for pizza, then one of La Rosa’s pastas will still keep you under-budget. Their meat dishes however do get pricey. The Filetto La Rosa, a beef filetto with four cheeses, mushrooms, and peppers, is 80LE.
According to multiple Italians’ input, the Farfalle La Rosa (32LE) is as good as a salmon pink-sauce gets. Parsley tops the al-dente bowties that come with pieces of smoked salmon, tossed and served with Parmesan cheese.
A 3LE cover charge per person affords you bruschetta and garlic bread that come before every meal. Also a large bottle of water (12LE) is opened in front of you unless otherwise prompted. If we had had any more room for dessert we would have ended with a tiramisu (19LE); lady fingers soaked in espresso and layered with mascarpone and cocoa. But alas, La Rosa’s mains are just too filling.
With its outstanding selection of food covering Greek, Mexican to Swiss and Italian cuisines, El Gouna is known to be one of the best places for food enthusiasts. As soon as we heard the news that Gouna’s Italian restaurant and pizzeria, La Scala, had opened their second branch at Sheikh Zayed's Arkan Mall, we could hardly wait to try it out.
La Scala has a simple interior design with dominant black white and red colours, simple seating arrangements, two prep stations, black and white portraits and an overall calming vibe. While the indoor area was very hot and the AC didn’t work, the weather at the outdoor area was fantastic – except a little ruined by an army of annoying flies.
We kicked things off with Insalata Tropicale (40LE); cubes of Gouda cheese, chicken, pineapples, peaches, oranges, bananas and cocktail sauce, the latter basically tasting like plain yogurt. The combination seemed an interesting one, but the flavours were unbalanced and it seemed like the Gouda cheese and chicken accidently fell into a fruit salad bowl.
We then decided to stick to pure Italian dishes with Spaghetti Con Vitello (195LE) and La Carbonara (89LE) which were far from disappointing. The former came in the form of five pieces of perfectly cooked veal medallions lying over a bed of perfectly cooked spaghetti with generous amount of fresh sautéed mushrooms. The exquisite mushroom sauce had an earthy flavour to it and would’ve been flawless had the veal not lacked seasoning.
Aside from the off-putting slices of red pepper and that the otherwise well-cooked bacon was cut into huge pieces, the spaghetti of the La Carbonara was cooked to perfection and the whole dish was rich in flavours, while the consistency of the sauce was on-point.
We finished our meal with Nutella Pizza with Bananas (27LE). As a soft and thin pizza crust smothered with Nutella and slices of bananas, this dessert was just moreproof that chocolate and bananas are one of the most underrated kitchen couples.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at La Scala, from the delicious food to the friendly staff. The restaurant delivers a promising start in Cairo. Let’s just hope they keep it up - the hardest challenge of all.