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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Pizza Yalla: Pizza & Pasta on the Blue Nile Boat in Zamalek
With the wonderful arrival of Pizza Mia, it’s hard to imagine that one would go out of their way to try any other pizza venue in Zamalek. But in a cosy location on the lower deck of the Blue Nile boat, Pizza Yalla offers quite a different experience than one would expect from a typical pizza place.
Pizza Yalla has inside and outside seating areas, both adorned with a Nile view. If you’re craving pizza or pasta, the calm and secluded restaurant offers the right getaway for you. The venue is divided into three areas: the first is easily visible upon entering the large and welcoming glass doors. It incorporates an American-style kitchen seating area, with enough space to seat a large group of people. Going further into the venue, more humble, six-person family tables are set up. And finally, the outside area offers glass top tables, that seat four people, overlooking the Nile.
The staff was very friendly and welcoming; they responded quickly to all our queries but they didn’t know much English, so they unfortunately couldn’t understand most of our concerns. The atmosphere was very relaxing, with a nice, fresh feel to it – the overall mood was emphasized by the light-coloured wooden chairs with green and yellow cushion covers. During the day the place is well lit and floods with an abundance of natural light.
The restaurant offers pizzas, pastas, Paninis, salads and desserts. While the prices are a little steep, the convenience of the venue and its amicability more than make up for it. The selection of pizzas is quite limited, with only a few varieties, but it still manages to accommodate to everyone’s taste. We settled for a pizza Quattro Stagiani (50LE) and a Ravioli Al Salmone (65LE). The pizzas were large and though they didn’t look very aesthetically pleasing, their taste proved to be more than satisfying. Both dishes were well proportioned and left us happily full. Most of the pizzas on the menu are about 50LE and pastas 40LE; whereas the desserts are various and range about 25LE; juice and canned beverages are also available. Pizza Yalla does not have minimum charge.
There’s a very wide gap in the pizza market in Egypt. At one end, you have the deep dish, ridiculously greasy localized version of pizza that frequent toppings like roumi cheese and sogo’, and then you have a small selection of pizzerias who serve a thinner crust and place more emphasis on the tomato sauce.
Roma Pizza, Buffalo Burger’s delivery-only sister restaurant, recently opened a new branch in Maadi, one of few locations that had previously been off their delivery radar. Maadi is home to some of the best pizzas available in Egypt, and its’ residents know their food, so competition for Roma Pizza is fierce right off the bat.
So, let’s dive into the good stuff. The topping selection is pretty standard, with the exception of a Cheese Burger pizza, so for our relatively large group we opted for three family sized pizzas. The ‘family size’ is about 40 cm wide, which is huge, keep in that in mind lest you over order like we did.
We opted for a Pepperoni (79LE) with an addition of fresh mushrooms (10LE), a Cheese Burger pizza (89LE) and a Hawaiian (89LE). Additionally, we also order some large Wedges (16LE) and Chicken Wings (22LE).
First, we need to point out that we were five people, and that amount of food could easily feed ten. Delivery was unfortunately slow, taking about an hour to get to us. While we understand taking the full 45 minutes when there’s a large order, still, we were extremely close by and it shouldn’t have taken that long.
The pizzas themselves had a sort of in between crust; not very thin, but thin enough to maintain a crunch. The tomato sauce lacked a little salt, but more importantly, it lacked quantity, which was a little disappointing. Also, the pepperoni tasted like regular salami.
The Cheese Burger pizza has the strangest toppings of all, Buffalo burger, American cheese, lettuce, thousand island sauce, red onions, dill and tomatoes. Essentially, if you fold the enormous slice over, it becomes a burger, that doesn’t quite have enough burger in it.
The Hawaiian pizza, with salami that’s advertised as pepperoni, pineapples and beef topping, had an overall bland taste which we’re attributing to the salt-less tomato sauce.
As for our sides, the Wedges were actually very good, and fried to a very nice crisp. The Chicken Wings didn’t fare as well, ending up rather soggy and greasy.
Roma Pizza may not be able to compete against higher end pizzerias, but it will definitely give you a good alternative to the likes of Pizza Hut and Papa John’s. We personally liked the crust very much, and wouldn’t mind a cheese pizza with fresh mushrooms if they would just add that pinch of salt to the tomato sauce.