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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Ristorante Tuscany: Secluded Italian Dining at the Marriott in Zamalek
Italian restaurants in Cairo are a dime-a-dozen; they’re not difficult to find but are often mediocre in quality. We had heard about Ristorante Tuscany for quite some time so when a last-minute affair was calling, we decided to give it a shot.
Boasting a Northern Italian flare, Ristorante Tuscany is located on the first level of the Cairo Marriott Hotel. From the garden area, enter the hotel and you’ll find the restaurant on your right: intimate, quiet and windowless. Simply composed of two small dining areas, the wood décor and dark colours elude to a classy Italian style.
Word on the street is that Ristorante Tuscany’s service is top notch and we can now vouch for that claim. From the moment we entered, and throughout the entire meal, the service was on point: friendly, informative and not too pushy, yet on-call for any request we had. Even after a long day, the waiters took great care.
We were automatically served with a complimentary hot loaf of homemade bread topped with crusted sun-dried tomato and herbs. Accompanying the bread were two mighty fine dipping sauces including a smooth pesto and sun-dried tomato.
Quickly turning to the drinks menu, we weren’t surprised to find their wines and champagnes to be quite pricey. For 240LE, a bottle of the locally produced Beausolis white wine was delivered to the table and introduced by a proper taste test. Clear & crisp, it paired well with our rather small but heavy entrees. Other wines were also available while the champagnes cost around 2400LE.
Ristorante Tuscany’s menu is comprised of an array of mouth-watering options. The restairant is famous for its soups, which include Zuppa Ai Funghi Di Bosco (65LE) and Zuppa Di Mare (120LE). We decided to test their salads, though.
Quite difficult to choose from was the Insalata Caprese, tempting us with its plum tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella (75LE), and the Stufato Di Cariofi Con Mozzarella Di Bufala E Pistacch – an artichoke stew with buffalo mozzarella and pistachio (75LE). Served with 4 thick slices of artichoke, the mozzarella coated rather well the tough-to-eat artichokes. The taste was mild and rich.
The pasta dishes included a variety of raviolis, risottos and pastas ranging between 75LE and 95LE. For 85LE, our Lasagne Ai Porcini E Mirtilli was served in a decadent porcini and blueberry sauce that nearly had us licking the plate. The lasagne itself came in two round stacks and was just as visually delightful. Seafood and meat dishes are also available, including porcini-crusted halibut (195LE), grilled rib-eye steak (320LE) and guinea hen stuffed with foie gras & beef bacon (165LE).
After all was said and done, our check totalled around 470LE and even though our dishes were small, our bellies were full and satisfied – but maybe the wine helped with that. The seclusion of the restaurant makes a perfect place for a private celebration or date in the evening. If you’re lucky, you might find that you have the entire venue to yourself and the special ones you’re with!
Even though we have an endless amount of Italian restaurants in Cairo, we can all agree that only a few are able to do it justice – to make it truly authentic. Not only does Tavolino achieve this, but it goes a step further.
From the outside, the Zamalek restaurant, which is located off of Aboul Feda Streey, might seem very small, but it’s surprisingly spacious. Interior wise, it has a very simple yet chic appearance; white brick walls with a touch of wood, black and white frames, and triangular mirrors stand out, despite the almost overly yellow lighting.
Moving to food, we started our meal with Cannelloni (70LE) from the restaurant’s ‘New Italian Cuisine’ menu, which adds twists to Italian classics. Six pieces of perfectly cooked cannelloni are stuffed with chicken and spinach, covered with melted mozzarella cheese and then topped with marinated tomato – similar to marinara sauce – and pesto sauce. A side of creamy gorgonzola sauce added a nutty flavour with a fantastic deep aftertaste and the dish showed Tavolino to be masters of art of flavour matching.
Another item we tried from the ‘New Italian Cuisine’ menu was The Tenderloin in the Wood (235LE); a perfect medium-well tenderloin steak laying on a phyllo-like pastry that’s filled with sautéed mushrooms, spinach and onions, and served with sweet garlic sauce and an exquisite sweet and savoury blueberry-and-onion jam. This dish left us speechless; not only was the steak on its own bursting with Italian herb flavours, but the addition of the crunchy texture from the mushroom pocket with the unique sweetness of the jam merged with the sweet garlic sauce created an outstanding dish.
Deciding to go back to the basics with our last choice, we went with Risotto Alla Pescatora (120LE). Rich, creamy, and well-seasoned, it had spot-on al dente texture; mixed with well-cooked shrimps and mussels, the dish was close to perfect, but for the overcooked, mushy crab and rubbery calamari.
Another thing that kept Tavolino from getting a perfect score was the fact that, at the time of our visit, only the Ice Cream & Sorbet (50LE), which is 3 scoops of Movenpick ice cream, was available.
But that was just a side note to a great meal; we were surprised by Tavolino’s one-of-a-kind flavours, particularly those on the ‘New Italian Cuisine’ menu, which certainly helps separate it from the crowd with a unique identity. Tavolino isn’t just another Italian restaurant.