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Friday, 22 March 2019

Pizza, pizza: Six places to go in Cairo

Deliciously topped dough is an old favourite for many, and in Cairo you'll not be disappointed

Dina Ezzat , Sunday 6 Jan 2019
Reuters
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Don Corleone

Don Corleone

Cairo's newest and, according to many pizza lovers, perhaps the best: as close as it gets to "real" Italian pizza, is how many people have described it since the opening of the small but very efficient delivery/pickup pizzeria in Zamalek in the spring of last year.

"It is all about the dough," many argue. But it is also about the freshness of the toppings, with fresh tomatoes always the best test for any pizza topping.

The menu of Don Corelone is diverse, with a clear understanding of vegetarian needs and an aversion to the "put anything on top" approach.

One of the best items on the menu is the Manarola: tomato sauce, mozzarella, shrimps, arugula and balsamic sauce. Delicious.

Pizzas come in medium and large sizes. Large is usually enough to share between two people who don't wish to overdo lunch.

Don Corleone is not just about pizza. It also has focaccia, of which the salmon option will not disappoint.

The Dolce Focaccia with nuttella chocolate spread, biscuits and marshmallows proved to be a very pleasant surprise.

La Casetta

La Casetta

Mick Jagger said it: old habits die hard. Those who remember La Casetta pizza from their teen years would never forget this winter-smoothing mix of soft dough and rich cheese.

The signature La Casetta pizza with tomatoes and cheese, the Magnum cheese pizza and the Pomodoro, with just tomatoes and herbs, are as simple and as indulging as could be.

More variety is available, however, with seafood, cold cuts and other toppings — and the possibility of custom mixes — leaving many difficult choices to be made.

La Casetta is also known for its super rich calozone, the folded oven-baked pizza with mincemeat and tomato sauce.

La Casetta has lost some of its nicer restaurants. Particularly missed for old-timers is the Stanley branch in Alexandria. Still, the recipes of the good old times are preserved and the restaurants that have survived the declining economic conditions of the middle classes offer a good setting for a peaceful dinner that is not particularly costly and certainly filling.

Maison Thomas

Maison Thomas

It has always been and is still an uncontested champion of pizza in town. It is practically impossible to suggest Maison Thomas to a group contemplating pizza and find a dissenting voice.

Arguably, Maison Thomas is the best non-international-franchise pizzeria for orders.

Paul’s Special, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomato cubes, onions and oregano, or the Alfredo with mozzarella, garlic, basil, olive oil and oregano, are well known to Maison Thomas addicts.

Particularly liked also are the Monaco, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, smoked roastbeef and oregano, and the Leonardo, that goes beyond the Monaco with marinated peppers and artichokes.

Maison Thomas pizzas come in all sizes. The delivery/take-out service is complemented with eat-in possibilities in some branches, particularly the original Maison Thomas on 26 July Street in Zamalek.

Cortigiano

Cortigiano

Cortigiano is yet another survivor from the good old days. Because it is more of a restaurant than a pizzeria, Cortigiano’s selection of pizza does not go beyond the obvious range from the Margherita to the Marinara.

The Naples-originating calzone is also there, with the added taste effect of sweet peppers and thyme.

Cortigiano’s are one-sized pizzas. Often good enough for one hungry person, or shared by two alongside cream of tomato soup or a caesar salad.

Cortiginao remains popular not just because it is affordable, but because it upholds its food quality and relatively generous portions.

The many branches of Cortigiano are usually over-booked, especially during the holidays, with the Dokki branch on Michel Bakhoum Street particularly renowned.

Ovio

Ovio

Relatively new and certainly inviting, Ovio has many things to offer for pizza lovers: decent pizza, a decent range of soups and salads, friendly venues, excellent service and good coffee and desserts to conclude with.

The mix of a quattro formaggi pizza and a mixed baby leaf salad or shrimp pizza and a spinach walnut salad are always satisfactory.

Ovio has a one-size pizza that pass as medium and their salads are not too big.

Its sunny Galleria 40 venue in Sheikh Zayed is a good place for pizza over the weekend.

Tutti Matti

Tutti Matti

Tutti Matti pizzas would not compete in size or price with those of the international chains in town, but they would certainly compete in quality, and in the selection of toppings available.

The signature Tutti Matti pizza, with creamy mozzarella chesse over tomato sauce, oregano, authentic Italian beef sausage and chili, is certainly capable of competing with best signature pizzas in town.

The strong taste of the hot pepperoni along with the mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and oregano in the Diavola is a strong competitor to the Tutti Matti.

In total, Tutti Matti has 10 choices on its menu for pizzas, satisfying the most diverse palates of pizza lovers.

Their selection of companion soups and salad is also quite inviting, with the minestrone soup and roca salad featuring high in terms of quality.

For soccer lovers, especially the huge fanclub of Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, Tutti Matti’s Maadi branch on Street 9 is not just a place to enjoy a pizza, but also a place to eat pizza while singing along with the crowds who go mad with joy when Salah scores.

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