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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.
Home to some of the most unique bars and restaurants in Cairo, the Four Seasons First Residence has long been considered one of the best hotels in the city. Its latest culinary addition comes in the way of STRADA; a chic Italian restaurant that goes all out to deliver a fine dining experience.
Located on the third floor, STRADA is hidden behind a vintage wooden door, engraved with Tuscan designs. Boasting an impressive Nile view, the setting is chic, creating an undisturbed, sophisticated mood. The venue is wide and spacious, with several different seating arrangements; we were seated alongside the window at a round, modern wooden table, with refined leather chairs with patterned backsides.
Designed with an urban-Tuscan interior, the restaurant gives off a rich, deluxe ambience. While the bright yellow shade of the walls brightens up the restaurant, the massive circular centrepiece is an Italian, stained glass window, which floods the space in natural light.
The food menu offers a variety of refined Italian dishes, covering soups, risotto, pastas and pizzas, alongside a section for fish, and another for red and white meats. The wine menu was also vast, with a selection of local and imported wine included.
For our starters, the Caprese Di Bufala (80LE) was rather standard in taste, yet ideal in portion to start off a meal. Served on a round platter was six pieces of rubbery buffalo cheese, topped off with a slice of crisp tomato, some Zucchini Linguini and a dash of Parmesan.
Moving on to the main dishes, the Salmone Arrositio (170LE) – roasted salmon, coated with glazed fennel and lemon sauce, served alongside sautéed vegetables – was flawless. Maintaining the balance between being impeccably grilled and perfectly marinated, the salmon had an external thin layer of crust, whilst remaining soft and pink on the inside.
The Risotto Porcini (120LE) transpired to be a light creamy mushroom risotto with Parmesan cheese. The dish was a little on the small side, and the risotto itself seemed rather bland and undercooked. In spite of this, the creamy mushroom sauce was impressively light.
We ended our meal with a traditional Italian dessert, the Cassette Gelato (40LE). Served with two full scoops of ice cream, and mixed with ground nuts, dried fruits and chocolate, the gelato brought a refreshing end to our three-course meal.
Though as a whole dining experience, STRADA delivers what you’d expect from an international hotel chain; however, at the time of our visit, the lofty prices simply didn’t justify the food served at the time of our visit.