Sign in using your account with
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.
Italian restaurants in Cairo are a dime a dozen and even when there is no specialised ‘ristorante’ around, most regular eateries feature pizza and pasta as a staple on their menu. Despite that, good affordable Italian food remains a bit of a holy grail in this crazy city, as most medium-priced restaurants attempt to satisfy their customers with uninspired, bland favourites of the Italian cuisine.
Cortigiano is a chain of Italian restaurants, with branches in Dokki, Nasr City, Heliopolis, Maadi and even one in Alexandria. Their branch in Dokki is a stone’s throw away from the Shooting Club on Michel Bakhoum and can easily be spotted by the leafy green plants outside and the soft yellow awnings.
Inside, the décor is merry; the faux-brick panelled walls are plastered with kitschy knickknacks, such as a violin, a guitar, a life buoy, an antique gramophone and many, many picture frames with old black and white photos of Italy. The menu boasts a picture of the Coliseum in Rome, too; clearly, the designers went out of their way to get that ‘authentic’ Italian feel. The seating comprises of heavy wooden tables, of which some have sturdy wooden chairs, while others have couches and comfortable reading chairs.
The service at Cortigiano is prompt and at any given time, there are many waiters bussing around. Even at the busiest of times, we had no issue getting someone’s attention and our glasses of mineral water were continuously topped up.
We would advise you to go to Cortigiano on a very empty stomach, as their servings are generally massive. The insalata greca, Greek salad (19.95LE), could easily have served as an entrée for a table of four. Unfortunately, it was a little dry, but the vegetables were certainly fresh and the feta hit the right level of density and flavour.
Even the soups could have been served as full meals, along with the croutons and the garlic bread sticks that came with our order. The creme di pomodoro tomato soup (14.95LE) was thick, full of flavour, yet a bit flat, while the zuppa di cipolle onion soup (15.95LE) had a far too overwhelming taste – and smell – of onion and was slightly watery
Pizzas at Cortigiano are of the thin, crisp base variety, but the pizza margherita (29.95LE) we ordered was a bit too oily. The shrimp and calamari in the spaghetti alla marinara (54.95LE) were a little overcooked, but the spaghetti was perfectly al dente. The penne al quatro formaggi (31.95LE), meanwhile, was just an overload of generic cheese flavour and we doubt there was any actual parmezan or gorgonzola used in it. One dish that was curiously missing from the menu was a pasta Arrabiata.
For dessert, we ordered the chocolate cake (an absolute steal at 14.95LE), which again, was a massive serving, but rather tasty. The mound of chocolate cake was draped with hot chocolate fudge that nicely compensated the dryness of the cake. The fudge was very heavy, but not too sweet.
Overall, the food at Cortigiano is decent, but alas, nothing to write home about. One thing that really got us excited about this restaurant, however, was the hilarious selection of music – Cortigiano’s playlist is the epitome of tackiness.