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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.
With its outstanding selection of food covering Greek, Mexican to Swiss and Italian cuisines, El Gouna is known to be one of the best places for food enthusiasts. As soon as we heard the news that Gouna’s Italian restaurant and pizzeria, La Scala, had opened their second branch at Sheikh Zayed's Arkan Mall, we could hardly wait to try it out.
La Scala has a simple interior design with dominant black white and red colours, simple seating arrangements, two prep stations, black and white portraits and an overall calming vibe. While the indoor area was very hot and the AC didn’t work, the weather at the outdoor area was fantastic – except a little ruined by an army of annoying flies.
We kicked things off with Insalata Tropicale (40LE); cubes of Gouda cheese, chicken, pineapples, peaches, oranges, bananas and cocktail sauce, the latter basically tasting like plain yogurt. The combination seemed an interesting one, but the flavours were unbalanced and it seemed like the Gouda cheese and chicken accidently fell into a fruit salad bowl.
We then decided to stick to pure Italian dishes with Spaghetti Con Vitello (195LE) and La Carbonara (89LE) which were far from disappointing. The former came in the form of five pieces of perfectly cooked veal medallions lying over a bed of perfectly cooked spaghetti with generous amount of fresh sautéed mushrooms. The exquisite mushroom sauce had an earthy flavour to it and would’ve been flawless had the veal not lacked seasoning.
Aside from the off-putting slices of red pepper and that the otherwise well-cooked bacon was cut into huge pieces, the spaghetti of the La Carbonara was cooked to perfection and the whole dish was rich in flavours, while the consistency of the sauce was on-point.
We finished our meal with Nutella Pizza with Bananas (27LE). As a soft and thin pizza crust smothered with Nutella and slices of bananas, this dessert was just moreproof that chocolate and bananas are one of the most underrated kitchen couples.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at La Scala, from the delicious food to the friendly staff. The restaurant delivers a promising start in Cairo. Let’s just hope they keep it up - the hardest challenge of all.