El Konafa Reviews: CaiRoma
6 months ago
We’d been hearing stories about how there’s a little Italian eatery hidden in a random alley downtown in Bab el Louk, and how it’s “REAL Italian food” and “the next best thing after eating in Rome itself”. As a frequent visitor of Italy and owing 90% of my body weight to pasta and pizza, I thought I’d better hurry on down to Bab el Louk and see if there was any truth to this mythical place of perfection.
The restaurant itself was easy enough to find with trusty Google Maps; finding a parking spot was death of course, but luckily El Bostan parking is right across the street. The issue with parking in El Bostan is that you have to go through its “mall” and for women, the experience is less than pleasant.
CaiRoma itself is down a little pedestrian alleyway, and true to the myths, does look Italian in that simple, not trying-too-hard way (despite the big picture of the Colosseum). It has small wooden tables covered in red checkered tablecloths, plants and little trees surrounding, and atmospheric Italian music in the background.
The menu is comprised of appetizers (eg: grilled eggplant, potatoes with rosemary, breadsticks and balsamic olive oil), a variety of different bruschettas, a few vegetarian options (vegetable curry, mozzarella salad, vegetable sauté), 3 piatti principali (grilled chicken, grilled steak, meatballs) and of course, pasta and pizza.
We were informed by our waiter that their Italian food is the “real” kind, and that they have a restaurant in Rome and their specialty is their pizza.
My friend M and I decided to order the spaghetti Bolognese, the pasta pollo (penne and chicken in a cream sauce) and split a pizza – half sausage, half margherita. The food came out quickly and to our surprise, we enjoyed the pasta way more than their touted pizza. The pastas were full of flavor while still being light, and waaaay tastier than your average pasta at say, Crave (we still love you though, Crave!).
The pizza had one really redeeming factor – the crust. I haven’t had a crust that good anywhere else in Cairo. But as for the rest of the pizza, it fell a bit flat. There was too much cheese, so it overpowered the taste of the sauce, and the cheese wasn’t browned and bubbly, so the overall result was a bit disappointing.
That being said, the pasta is good enough to tempt you to brave the chaotic streets of Bab el Louk. Also, we ended up paying 140 EGP each, which in this day and age is a steal for pasta, half a large pizza and a drink.
In a nutshell: don’t do CaiRoma a disservice by believing the super-hype; it’s really hard to live up to those mythical expectations. Just take it for what it is: a small eatery doing some good food, with potential to do even better with a few tweaks here or there.