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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.
In the few and far moments when Cairo's weather is both sunny and breezy, there's nothing better than dining outside. One of most popular spots to do exactly that in also happens to have an excellent Nile view; Maadi’s the Platform.
Having worked our way through almost all of the cafes and restaurants there, La Pietra was beckoning. While enjoying good weather and a great view is a plus that all the Platform venues enjoy, it also brings a lot of traffic and, more often than not, the Platform is packed. Service time is generally slow and you may end up changing which restaurant you’re going to eat at rather than wait for a table to clear up.
The outdoor decor in the Platform is almost universal across the venues. At La Pietra, simple yet elegant dark cushioned chairs and glass-top tables suit the general ambiance of the Platform quite well.
We browsed through the menu and opted for the Mushroom Soup (22LE), Chicken with Honey and Mustard (56LE) and Beef Escalope (75LE) - all of which we were really made to wait for.
It took thirty minutes to serve the soup and it arrived cold - cold enough, in fact, to send back. In fairness, however, once re-heated, the soup was actually better than most efforts across Cairo's restaurants, being extremely dense in ground mushrooms rather than just cream.
About fifteen minutes later, our main courses were served. The Chicken with Honey and Mustard is a dish we’ve previously tried before, and thankfully, they didn’t shatter our good memory of it. The dish was hot, the chicken was tender and the sauce was brilliant and deep in flavour. The fluffy side of rice was particular tasty with the sauce and the smooth mashed potatoes with sharp spring onions completed the ensemble.
The Beef Escalope, served with a creamy mushroom sauce and sides of pasta with tomato sauce and French fries, was equally as successful and this reviewer would have no qualms in recommending it to anyone. The generous strip of beef was well marinated, cooked right and coated with a crunchy breading. Dipping it in the rich sauce was the cherry on top. The side of farfalle pasta with red sauce was without fault but unspectacular, almost forgettable and futile, and the French fries were pleasingly crispy.
Cold soup and slow service aside, La Pietra's food is as good as any other’s at the Platform and manages to do something that few restaurants around Cairo do - keep things simple.