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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.
We think we can all agree that Italian cuisine has an uncanny ability to bring jot to those who eat it; with pizza, pasta, risotto and exquisite breads, what’s not to love? The amounts of Italian restaurants in Cairo continue to grow and one of the newest competitors in the battle is Il Loft - an eatery whose claims of authenticity come largely from the their commitment to using imported goods.
Located inside Arkan Mall in Sheikh Zayed, Il Loft stands out with an industrial and rustic interior design that will definitely grab your attention. Everything from the hanging light fixtures, to the pizza oven and brick-walling, to little decorative details such as quirkily arranged rolling pins and cheese wheels, come together for an excellent ambiance. Besides the rather unattractive chairs, it all captures a sophisticated yet casual Italian atmosphere. As for the outdoor area, it’ll be great for an early lunch with summer ahead.
While browsing the menu, the waiter arrived with complimentary Italian flatbread and a small plate of shredded parmesan cheese with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea but for those that like sweet, tart and salty flavours together, it’s a nice opener.
For our appetisers, we went with Parmigiana Di Melanzane (59LE) – a dish that brings together delicious layers grilled eggplant, melted buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese, all topped with flavourful tomato sauce and fresh basil. The eggplant absorbed all the delicious and delicate flavours, but sadly the bottom layer was slightly burnt and had a bitter taste.
Moving to the first main, we started with the Costoletta Di Vitello Alla Milanese (95LE) – a Milanese-style veal cutlet. Served with perfectly fried garlic potato cubes, the breaded veal cutlet was topped with fresh arugula, cherry tomato and cheese shavings. The veal was, unfortunately, a bit dry and overcooked, while also lacking flavour, plus the crust wasn’t as crispy as we expected.
We couldn’t visit an Italian place without trying pizza, so we went with the Funghi Pizza (55LE). With its puffy edge and crispy yet chewy centre, the dough alone deserves a standing ovation. We were similarly pleased with the toppings, as the tomato sauce was well-seasoned and the kitchen was generous with the fresh mushroom and fior di latte mozzarella.
We finished the meal with classic Italian dessert, Tiramisu (42LE). Served in a V glass, the tiramisu consists of super creamy mascarpone mixture, with a spot-on amount of sugar, and ladyfinger biscuits soaked in coffee. Sadly, it was too soggy and almost dissolved into a musch, while the ratio of the mascarpone mixture to the ladyfingers was off. Poor execution aside, the flavours individually were out of this world.
Overall, our visit to IL LOFT was just a little short of being great; the ambiance was remarkable and the service was terrific, but several small-to-unforgivable mistakes in the execution let down the experience at the time of our visit.