Featured image via La Trattoria /Facebook. Other images: Nelly Ezz.
There is no doubt that La Trattoria has a distinct charm; a cosy setting, soft lighting, and mellow tunes playing in the background. Anyone who has been going out and about in Zamalek for the past decade would have probably visited it a few times; it’s one of those restaurants that has stood the test of time.
Once you step through the door, you instantly feel the vintage vibes all around, and even though the place is not big, the table arrangements and mirrors make it seem more spacious; intimate yet still roomy. This makes it an ideal option for dates or not-so-formal business dinners.
The moment we sat down, the staff handed us menus. We settled in and as we went through their tempting variety of Italian dishes as we nibbled on the sesame breadsticks that were already placed on the table. It’s not so often that you would find tasty breadsticks already on a table in a restaurant; they’re usually either dry like they’re a week old or just plain tasteless – but these were on-point. On the downside though, the selection for cold non-alcoholic beverages was a bit too basic; only sodas and juices: apple or orange. It would have been more suitable to have a couple of mocktails on the menu; nothing too extravagant, just standard options for people who may want them. After some time, we finally decided on an appetiser; Zucchini Parmigiana (70LE) which was recommended to us by one of the staff members. It took a bit of time to arrive, but since it’s oven-baked, it is understandable. Honestly, it was worth the wait and was probably the best part of the whole meal; the zucchini was perfectly cooked, the tomato sauce was tangy yet light, and you can instantly tell that the cheese used is good quality Parmesan. Not to mention that it was faultlessly seasoned; the right amount of salt, satisfactory hint of garlic, and high-quality olive oil.
Veal Escalope with mushroom lemon sauce
Moving on to the main courses, we eventually decided on the Smoked Salmon Fettucine Pasta, swapping the ordinary cream sauce with creamy spinach sauce (150LE) and the Veal Escalope with mushroom lemon sauce alongside olive-oil drizzled pasta (300LE). The Fettucine came with a fresh, bright green colour from the spinach sauce and the smoked salmon popped beautifully; the dish tasted as good as it looked. The sauce was creamy and flavoursome, the salmon was fresh, and the seasoning on the whole plate was perfect – if there’s only one thing I could add, it would be freshly grated Parmesan on top; it would have made all the difference. Unfortunately, the veal dish is where the downfall came. Typically, veal is in and out of the pan within 5 minutes, anything other than that can damage the quality. The plate had about six pieces of meat, drenched in a yummy sauce, but three out of those six pieces were too chewy to eat – this was an inconsistent cooking mishap. Secondly, aside from the delicious mushrooms in the sauce, there were pieces of undercooked vegetables scattered amid the veal. Bell peppers, large onion bits, and zucchini were strange additions that didn’t go well with the overall flavours of the dish. The side-dish, which was the pasta, was too plain on its own; it was just basic pasta.
Ala Boumba Nutella
We were now full because the portions were sizeable, but we couldn’t resist ordering dessert from a small “Special” menu that had been on the table since we sat down. There was only one dessert, so we chose it: Ala Boumba Nutella (80LE). We asked the staff what it was and they said it was like “Zalabya” (the Egyptian puff pastry balls) but filled and topped with Nutella. Immediately we were sold. Unfortunately once again, the dessert was not what we had pictured. For the most part, it looked good, but it was not Nutella-filled Zalabya, more mini doughnut balls – which would have been okay by us if they were tasty. However, the dough was too dense, the ratio of dough to Nutella was not right, and the dough was not delicious enough to eat on its own. Sadly, this was the second dish that didn’t live up to the standards of the killer appetiser and the remarkable Fettucine dish – so it seems that it’s a tie; two delicious plates and two not-so-good ones.
All in all, our dining experience was enjoyable yet over-priced; as much as the food was good in some aspects, it wasn’t in others. Besides, the calibre for execution and attention to detail should be much higher when offering such specialised dishes with this kind of price range.