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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Cortigiano: Family Friendly Restaurant in Heliopolis
Upon entering the restaurant, it dawned on us we must have chosen one of the busiest restaurants in the area as it was filled to the brim with hungry families. Surprisingly, noise was not a problem – we thought perhaps because everybody was too busy enjoying the food.
At the time of our visit, Cortigiano was naturally lit with the afternoon sun and the atmosphere was both comfortable and inviting with warm, wooden panelling, traditional lamp shades and art work. We weren't neglected by the staff either and were shown to a table within minutes and presented with their detailed, diverse menus.
For drinks, we opted for Sunshine (14.95LE) – a cocktail of Grenadine and lemonade –and a peach iced tea (9.95LE).
After pondering over their interesting selection of starters, we chose the one that intrigued us the most; Involtini Primavera Con Carne (24.95LE), described as pies stuffed with meat and cabbage, served with a 'special sauce'. Because there was so much to choose from, we had difficulty deciding on the mains so we reeled the waiter in for his recommendations and he assured us that the Filleto Alla Pizzaiola (79.95LE) – beef with mozzarella cheese and black olive sauce – was the way forward. We also chose the Pollo Alla Americano (55.95), chicken with sweet pepper sauce, tomatoes and onions.
A complimentary basket of crispy, buttery garlic bread was brought to the table, making a change from the usual bread usually presented at restaurants. The starter arrived quickly, and, rather than the small pies we were expecting, they turned out to be just meat and cabbage spring rolls. Despite the un-originality, we couldn't complain; they were hot, crispy and finger-lickingly juicy. The special sauce on the other hand was an incredibly sweet, fruit jam, more suited to breakfast toast than a savoury starter.
The priority on such a busy day was the food and, eventually, after we had finished the starter, the drinks arrived. The iced tea turned out to be a safe choice as it was a popular, canned brand. The Sunshine cocktail, although not difficult to mix, was scrumptious and refreshing with extra added lemon, making it the best we’ve tasted.
Once the starter had been cleared, without delay, the main courses were brought to our table. As promised, the large portion of beef fillet was delicious and tender with a large amount of sauce to eat with the smooth, creamy mash and fluffy white rice.
The chicken dish was equally, if not more delectable. The tomato and pepper sauce was wonderfully sweet with large pieces of onion and fresh red and green peppers to add to the flavour. The side of mixed vegetables was well cooked – although nothing out of the ordinary – and the mash just was as pleasant as with the first dish.
To satisfy our sweet-tooth, we chose chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream to end our meal. You can imagine our joy when it turned out to be literally a small, sticky cake, perfect for sharing, covered in chocolate sauce.
Taking into account the business of this place at the weekend, we were continuously impressed with the swift and polite service and thoroughly enjoyed our large meal. In our opinion, it's a great place to go with the family and good value for money.
Garden City hotel, InterContinental Semiramis, has always been a foodie-favourite on the Cairo high-end dining scene and, searching for a restaurant combining a good view of the city alongside some tasty dishes, we headed to the hotel’s resident Italian eatery, Pane Vino
Boasting two other restaurants on the same floor, including 2015 Cairo 360 Editors’ Choice Award winner, Birdcage, Pane Vino – literal for bread and wine – can’t be missed with its tasteful modern setting and its full frontal view of the Nile, Cairo Tower and Cairo Opera House. among other landmarks.
After being greeted with some delicious complimentary olive paste, bâton salé and mini pizza bites –baked with thick and crispy dough— we kicked things off with some fresh pomegranate juice, whose natural sweetness was quite refreshing and delightful.
Pane Vino’s menu offers a variety of Italian delicacies; from the most typical choice like pizzas (65LE-125LE) and Lasagna Al Forno (90LE), to the more authentic Italian dishes like Catoletta alla Milanese –fried breaded veal, a classic of Milan’s cuisine (160LE) and Osso Buco – a platter of veal shanks served with saffron risotto (200LE).
We eventually opted for a Tartare di Salmone (85LE), as well as the Fettucine Alfredo Con Pollo e Funghi (90LE) and the Tagliata di manzo con ruccola e grana (180LE) – Pane Vino’s signature beef served with baked potatoes.
Fashioned to look like an actual salmon steak and infused with apples, dill, green and white onions, our tartare di salmon was quite delightful; we enjoyed the sweet and sour contrast between the apple and the lemon, as well the freshness of the salmon pieces, though the onions were a little too overpowering to the whole combination.
Served on a bed of arugula and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, our tagliata was well-seared, tender and quite flavourful;, thanks largely to the topping of thin slices of the mildly salty Grana Padano cheese –one of Italy’s finest.
Our Fettucine Alfredo, however, was the highlight of our dinner; with its perfectly light, creamy white sauce, fresh mushrooms, well-seasoned tender chicken and the perfectly tasty pasta cooked al dente just as it should be.
When it was time for dessert, we moved to a smaller table at Pane Vino’s extended terrace, to enjoy the chilly breeze while still taking in at the breathtaking Nile view.
Between a number of sweet delicacies, we chose a Cassata (65LE); a Neapolitan ice cream infused with dried fruits from Southern Italy and a classic Italian almond tart (65LE) — another of Pane Vino’s signature dishes.
Served with a red fruit sauce, the Cassata boasted a rich, fruity and vanilla-infused flavour and tasted heavenly; our almond tart, on the other hand, paled in comparison to the cassata, layer of chocolate was noticeably un-fresh, which contributed to an overall flat-tasting dessert/
We’ve often complained that few restaurants in Cairo understand the true essence of Italian cuisines; Pane Vino is not the kind of restaurant you’re going to go to regularly – the prices are predictably steep – but when it comes to a special occasion, Pane Vino is, without a doubt, a perfect choice.