For some cooks, it’s all about authentic and fresh ingredients. If you’re at a loss of where to turn to in Cairo for your kilo of porcini mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella or fresh ricotta, the quaintly-named La Bottega Italiana grocery in Maadi may hold your answers.

Packed with more varieties of pasta than you can count, the grocery also holds imported olive oils, vinegar, canned tuna, biscuits and other specialties from the Italian heartland.

Shelves are stocked to the brim with imported pasta brands from Dececco to Delverde. Nests of Aurea taglietelle al peperoncino, agli spinaci and taglietelle con papanero are available for 14LE per 16 oz. bag, alongside hand-crafted fresh penne and linguine at 22LE per 16 oz. bag. At the time of this review, most varieties of pasta were on special offer for restocking purposes, as the single shop attendant was eager to explain. Del Verde gnocchi was selling for 13LE per 16 oz. bag, Aurea Linea varieties for 10LE, and Daniella pasta for 12LE. the condiments sit across from the dizzying display of linguine, flat rolls of lasagne, corkscrew fusilli, conch-shaped pasta shells, macaroni elbows and delicate angel hair.

Both organic and non-organic honey jars are available in various stages of crystallisation starting at 70LE a jar. Olio Bio olive oil starts at 50LE and Dockers green apple vinegar costs 22LE a bottle. Canisters of tuna are carefully stacked, packed in olive oil and available for 50LE a precious tin. Glass jars of Italian sauerkraut sit beside bags of porcini mushrooms (180LE per kilo).

The deli is flanked with bars upon bars of Toblerone and Animation Chocolates (20LE per bar), Cadbury eggs in various sizes, as well as the standard Galaxy bars. Biscuits and sweets line the back shelves, with supplementary canned cherries, imported marzipan, and metallic tubes of maroon paste stacked near the register like candy, sold at 25LE a pop.

All this and we haven’t talked about the deli counter yet. Behind the display case lies a precious collection of mozzarella, fresh and afloat in its container and yours for 160LE a kilo, handsome wedges of thick-rind parmisiano regiano (180LE per kilo), crumbly Italian gorgonzola (190LE) and tubs of fresh ricotta (70LE per kilo).

The deli also supplies Italian ham and salami (160LE per kilo), select cuts of beef, and horse meat for 250LE per kilo.

We were especially delighted to find all the ingredients for the makings of a classic risotto, with sacs of Arborio rice, imported chicken broth stock and the coveted porcini mushrooms. Throw in some garlic and a few spring onions and you have one happy chef on your hands.