Sign in using your account with
Garden City, Cairo, Egypt.
Bella: Cairo’s Corporate-Cosy Brunch
Lunching at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza’s resident Italian restaurant Bella almost feels like dining in New York's posh Upper East Side. The hotel restaurant emanates a feeling of crisp business luxury, with grand dining chairs, banquet decor and glass table tops. This is the sort of restaurant where a bottle of Aquafina water is whisked to your table in a silver ice-bucket, like any distinguished bottle of white wine.
While hotel dining generally threatens to border on sterile, Bella is just charming enough to provide a refreshing lunch spot. The stunning Nile view gives the illusion that Cairo is nothing but scenic and serene, with a gently flowing river snaking through. The service is impeccable, though we were not partial to the Four Seasons uniform, which is reminiscent of 1950s stewardess attire without that vintage edge.
Bella offers a business lunch set menu for 175LE, which includes an antipasti, a main course and dessert. With added drinks and service charges, expect the set price to increase somewhat.
Starters include roasted eggplant and buffalo mozzarella served warm on a bed of baby greens. The Four Season's notoriously fresh ingredients, reportedly imported from select international markets, make for captivating flavours in even the simplest of dishes. The lightly cured mozzarella contrasts divinely with the tart greens and tangy sundried tomatoes. The bruschetta of fresh tomatoes is light but full of flavour, while the salads have varied greens of arugula, endives and spring lettuce, light olive oil dressing and garnishes of toasted pine nuts. The beef carpaccio is served in slices that are more substantial than usual, and the salt of the meat is balanced with a balsamic dressing.
Main courses offer a range of gnocchi, pastas, risottos and fillets. The heavenly honey-and-black-pepper-crusted salmon is cooked to perfection, with a brazed crisp exterior encasing the tender texture of the fish. The dish was accompanied by an impressive potato mille-feuille layered with tomatoes and eggplant. The New York steak was cooked to our medium-rare specifications, and marinated in rich sauce with a tasty side salad.
The coffee at Bella is excellent; the well-brewed espressos and cappuccinos prompted sighs of satisfaction around our table. With dessert, we encountered our first worry: the quartet of crème brûlée tasted oddly artificial; with a selection of vanilla, coffee, berry and pistachio crème brûlées, a few even sadly lacked the crisp brûlée surface, and instead were sub-par mousses. Our tastebuds were rescued by the chocolate molten cake, which was a dark chocolate enthusiast’s delight, while the panna cotta with berry ice cream hit the spot.
Bella brings lunch in Cairo to new heights by combining gourmet dining with casual dishes in a way that gives lunch among friends just the right among of sophistication without being stuffy.
We think we can all agree that Italian cuisine has an uncanny ability to bring jot to those who eat it; with pizza, pasta, risotto and exquisite breads, what’s not to love? The amounts of Italian restaurants in Cairo continue to grow and one of the newest competitors in the battle is Il Loft - an eatery whose claims of authenticity come largely from the their commitment to using imported goods.
Located inside Arkan Mall in Sheikh Zayed, Il Loft stands out with an industrial and rustic interior design that will definitely grab your attention. Everything from the hanging light fixtures, to the pizza oven and brick-walling, to little decorative details such as quirkily arranged rolling pins and cheese wheels, come together for an excellent ambiance. Besides the rather unattractive chairs, it all captures a sophisticated yet casual Italian atmosphere. As for the outdoor area, it’ll be great for an early lunch with summer ahead.
While browsing the menu, the waiter arrived with complimentary Italian flatbread and a small plate of shredded parmesan cheese with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea but for those that like sweet, tart and salty flavours together, it’s a nice opener.
For our appetisers, we went with Parmigiana Di Melanzane (59LE) – a dish that brings together delicious layers grilled eggplant, melted buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese, all topped with flavourful tomato sauce and fresh basil. The eggplant absorbed all the delicious and delicate flavours, but sadly the bottom layer was slightly burnt and had a bitter taste.
Moving to the first main, we started with the Costoletta Di Vitello Alla Milanese (95LE) – a Milanese-style veal cutlet. Served with perfectly fried garlic potato cubes, the breaded veal cutlet was topped with fresh arugula, cherry tomato and cheese shavings. The veal was, unfortunately, a bit dry and overcooked, while also lacking flavour, plus the crust wasn’t as crispy as we expected.
We couldn’t visit an Italian place without trying pizza, so we went with the Funghi Pizza (55LE). With its puffy edge and crispy yet chewy centre, the dough alone deserves a standing ovation. We were similarly pleased with the toppings, as the tomato sauce was well-seasoned and the kitchen was generous with the fresh mushroom and fior di latte mozzarella.
We finished the meal with classic Italian dessert, Tiramisu (42LE). Served in a V glass, the tiramisu consists of super creamy mascarpone mixture, with a spot-on amount of sugar, and ladyfinger biscuits soaked in coffee. Sadly, it was too soggy and almost dissolved into a musch, while the ratio of the mascarpone mixture to the ladyfingers was off. Poor execution aside, the flavours individually were out of this world.
Overall, our visit to IL LOFT was just a little short of being great; the ambiance was remarkable and the service was terrific, but several small-to-unforgivable mistakes in the execution let down the experience at the time of our visit.