There’s an Italian restaurant in Maadi called La Rosa which is a neighborhood restaurant in every sense of the word. Tucked away on a side street only local residents are very familiar with, the waiters know regulars by name, the décor is nothing too exciting and the food isn’t cordon bleu caliber but it is this: a comfortable restaurant that feels like a second home…somehow.
Let me explain. The décor is not too fancy or fashion forward: red and white table linens softened with a bit of use and age, framed pictures of actor Omar Sharif alongside La Rosa’s owner are hung up, the kitchen bar is open to the restaurant’s dining room, waiters are in black waistcoats and trousers, eager to help and serve, which is a rarity in Egypt, and the menu is neither too exciting nor too boring but does offer a number of tasty dishes.
The restaurant can hold about twenty people, so a night out with eight friends required making reservations beforehand. We started off with the standard bruschetta. A generous slice came down to each diner before menus were presented. We munched them quickly as we selected antipasti to share. When does the combination of tomatoes, fresh garlic and herbs never work? The bread was fresh and I would have ordered seconds had some focaccia bread not been presented.
The focaccia came down in a basket, either plain with some salt and garlic powder or else with a thin spread of tomato sauce, hot and great to go along with our antipasti. We ordered the Funghi Trifolati, fresh mushrooms with garlic and parsley which came down hot, perfect alongside our suppli; fritters made from mozzarella, rice and ground beef which were really spicy. The suppli was interesting but heavily fried.
We also decided to split a pizza as antipasti of sorts. The Pizza Milanese, topped with mozzarella, tomato, smoked turkey and spinach was a great choice. The spinach and the smoked turkey were a great combination to have on a pizza which itself was a perfectly baked Roman style pizza: thin crust, with just the right amount of cheese layered on top.
Of course, in the pursuit of finding just how good the menu is, I had to dip my fork into everyone’s plate. The Gnocchi Verdi, gnocchi with spinach in a cream and blue cheese sauce is quite heavy. The gnocchi was a bit disappointing, too lumpy with too much potato in the gnocchi dough but the sauce was delicious.
Those with a mild intolerance to lactose would be wise to choose something else off the menu instead such as a pasta dish.
My friends enjoyed their Filetto La Rosa, a beef filet that comes down with either a mushroom, pepper or four cheeses sauce. The pepper sauce a friend had selected was more akin to a cream sauce accented with lots of pepper. Good if you like cream sauces but again it would have been too much for anyone cautious with regards to their cream and dairy intake such as myself.
I personally had selected the most diet-conscious thing I found on the menu after the carb fest I had earlier indulged in of bread and pizza. The Filetto Larry, a simply grilled piece of beef fillet served with no sauce but a fair amount of rucola was disappointingly overcooked to medium rather then the medium rare I had wanted but still, delicious in its marinated flavor and a good way of wrapping up the meal.
There are dessert options, the standard tiramisu, a profiterole and Copa Milano, ice cream topped with chocolate sauce, but I would highly recommend you pay the bill and walk the short two minute walk to Stavolta, a gelato shop on road 231 that serves Italian gelato equal only to gelato in Italy.
Prices in La Rosa are quite fair, antipasti range in price from LE 8-20, pasta dishes from LE 30-37, main courses from LE 60 to 70 and pizza from LE 20 – 35. Though some dishes appear to look like glorified versions of food found in Egyptian sporting clubs, the dishes are good value for money in a city where food is more often then not substandard and overpriced.
La Rosa Maadi: N19, Road 231, Degla. Telephone: 02-2516-7337
La Rosa also has a branch in New Cairo: Street 12, Section 2, 5th District. Telephone: 012-7030200