La Trattoria, Italian Restaurant
By Guest Reviewer, Rachel Williamson
La Trattoria serves surprisingly good Italian food in a restaurant that reeks of good taste: spare décor, large mirrors, a dining room uncluttered by too many tables, and soft lighting.
We’d been warned to book and although it was early on a Monday evening, we were glad we did so. Although the restaurant filled up from nothing during the two hours we spent there, two large tables remained empty yet two couples were sent away by the unbending waitstaff. In saying that, it’s the most popular restaurant we’ve seen outside Ramadan in two years.
The menu is only two pages long, which is a welcome respite from the tomes provided in many Egyptian restaurants, and imminently attainable for a small kitchen. On one side are four soups, a handful of antipasti and pastas, and on the other a selection of meat and fish mains, risotto and dessert. The drinks menu is a single sheet of exorbitantly-priced Egyptian wines and more normally priced beers and non-alcoholic beverages.
We started with a small breadbasket of fresh baguette slices dipped in olive oil (free), followed by the (slightly under-seasoned) Caprese salad (LE39) and the Pollo salad (LE55) to start. It was a hard choice to settle on only those two and ultimately we had to rock-off for them. Both were delicious and crisply fresh, but the pollo salad with its perfectly-cooked chicken strips, sundried and cherry tomatoes, and chunks of feta was the winner.
Mains were a tasty and very green Fettuccine Salmone Appumicala (LE72) - salmon with a spinach sauce - and the Ossobuco (155). Several people warn that the Lasagna (LE55) is now a disappointment after the chef changed the recipe, but the Ossobuca has received rave reviews for a good reason: it’s excellent.
One caution is that the serving sizes follow the American playbook: sizeable. One antipasti and a main would have served us well, so as a result we left the restaurant staggering under the weight of our collective food babies.
Sweet Cairo’s Joel says he’s prepared to pay good money for good food in Egypt. In our opinion good service is equally worthwhile. La Trattoria’s servers do have a tendency to be utterly single-minded in completing their job of the moment – don’t expect any acknowledgement of your presence if a waiter is taking an order and you’re waiting at the door to be seated – but you only need to ask as every request is met promptly and politely.