Authentic Italian cuisine may as well be a four-leaf clover amidst the numerous burger joints and Asian-inspired hotspots in Cairo. Yet, we feel like we’ve found a pot of gold in Maadi’s most charming trattoria, Ralfie’s, where food meets history and intersects with love. This restaurant’s admirable story is enough to draw anyone in – let alone the spectacular albeit simple menu. Bouncing between the cosy dining foyer and sporadic cooking lessons in the two-person kitchen, conversing in English, Arabic, and Italian, we’ve got the full scoop on how this lovely restaurant and the two people running the place came to be.
Davide Cavedo and Dana Kamel met in the elevator of their apartment building three years ago. Then strangers, the two nomads connected over their love of food and the historically significant role it plays in developing culture and society. Kamel, a Jordanian artist and journalist at the time, fell for Cavedo because of his adoration of the art of cooking and his investment in preserving decades-old recipes. Cavedo, raised in a six-generation family of Italian chefs, similarly admired Kamel for her unique perspective on art, culture, and humanity’s connection to food –despite her inability to cook.
Spanish-speaking Kamel opened the door for communicating with Cavedo and has since picked up Italian. According to her, his first question was, “can you cook?” The inevitable answer, “no”, led her to ask the same thing. Thus began his explanation of how it’s in his DNA – and the rest is history. Growing up in the restaurant business, twenty years as a chef, working with world-renowned pizzaiolo Francesco Caddeo throughout Italy and Europe, and two delivery restaurants later, Cavedo opened Ralfie’s with Kamel in July 2021.
These two could not be sweeter. From Cavedo boasting with pride about his wife’s paintings on the wall to Kamel’s wholehearted support for her husband’s craft, their desire to offer Maadians a comfortable, calm space to refuel and recharge runs throughout the eatery. Together, they narrowed down the list of appetisers, pizzas, pasta, and desserts to include original Italian recipes that could be perfectly executed using local Egyptian products. Then, through searching and testing, trial and error, the couple individually selected each ingredient specifically to ensure accurate and optimum flavour – tomatoes, mozzarella, and flour, being just a few. Their dedication and determination to promote locally-grown elements in their cooking is only magnified by the passion they both have for food and culture.
The beauty of simple recipes and natural ingredients reinforces the health factor of meals offered at Ralfie’s. Less added sugar and fat leaves you feeling lighter and almost oblivious of the fact that you just inhaled an entire pizza.The wonders of Italian cuisine! Where dough rests overnight and tomatoes roast into fresh sauce daily, this is where you need to be for truly authentic dishes straight out of Italy. You won’t find a family business more accommodating than this one.