Normally we stay away from places that uses puns in their names, but Heliopolis' Eatalia did not disappoint, serving up authentic dishes made with high quality ingredients, leaving Eihab Boraie sinfully satisfied.
Often I cringe when a relative invites me to an Italian restaurant in Cairo. I have been fooled many times, going out, thinking I was in for an authentic Italian meal only to find out that the menu is filled with items like taco salad and burgers. This was not the case when I took a visit to Eatalia in Heliopolis.
Eatalia knows what they want to be and it is reflected in the menu, filled with classic Italian dishes. The first impression upon entering is that the restaurant is open, clean, and reminiscent of a quaint and comfy countryside Italian bistro with a separate back room for special events. The only thing that made it seem out of place was the shisha, but then again what is a restaurant in Egypt without shisha? That being said the shisha was a welcome addition as it was smooth, clean, and constantly and carefully attended to.
The menu was clearly laid out in appropriate Italian titled sections. For my Zuppe I went with a potato soup. The soup was served hot, and was very balanced. The seasoning was perfect and, in no time, found its way to my belly. I remember making a mental note that I would be coming back for it in the near future. As soon as the final spoon of soup was ingested, I found my bowl being cleared by the watchful eye of Mina, our server, who made sure to be attentive throughout the meal without being annoying and taking away from the overall experience.
For my Antipasto and Insalata plate I decided to keep it classic Italian, ordering Bruschetta and a Caprese Salad. The two arrived at the same time and were very well presented. The Bruschetta was served on a crunchy slice of baguette topped with a perfectly blended tomato topping providing a texturally balanced bite. The Caprese Salad was deceptively simple and delicious; like any proper Caprese Salad it was served with tomato, fresh basil, olive oil and, of course, buffalo mozzarella. What makes this salad a classic Italian dish is the real buffalo mozzarella and, to my surprise, Eatalia recognised this fact and imported the proper, delicious cheese.
For the Primo course, I went with a seafood penne in a rose sauce, as well as a Quattro Formaggi Pizza. The pasta and the seafood were cooked sklilfully, and the sauce was rich and tasty, if a little too plentiful. The pizza was also divine as the four cheeses were evenly distributed and accomplished the classic gooey cheese string battle with every bite. The only negative thing that could be said is that the thin crust dough, although seasoned well, could have stayed a little longer in the oven making it a crispy contrast to the delicious gooey top. I still ate all of it and wasn't sure if I would have room for anything else, but alas, I already ordered their signature steak, Nathalie's Filetto.
As soon as it arrived, thoughts of being full quickly vanished as the filet served in a special mushroom sauce looked spectacular and was served with Italian style rosemary potatoes as well as fresh sautéed vegetables. I have become accustomed to frozen sauté mixes in Egypt, so the fresh vegetables stood out and completed every bite of beef.
To close off the meal I ordered a chocolate molten lava cake for my Dolce. When it arrive to the table it seemed like a simple chocolate cake with soft serve ice-cream on the side. However, when I cut into it, an explosion of chocolate goodness engulfed the plate. The cake was moist and the chocolate was sinful, but what kept it in balance was the ice-cream that came with it.
It was unclear after the meal if I would be able to leave, as I had gorged myself on quite the Italian feast. At no point did the service waiver from being professional and attentive. The food was very affordable and wasn't all that creative, but then again that isn't what Eatalia is trying to achieve. Simply put, they serve classic Italian dishes, and do so carefully, with delicious results. So the next time your relatives invite you out to eat Italian in Heliopolis, then suggest Eatalia – it’s closest you’ll get to an authentic taste of Italy.
Eatalia is located at 52 Ibrahim Salem Street, facing Koleyet El Banat, Heliopolis. Tel: 02-269 07642 / 02-269 07652. Opening hours: 10am - 1am daily. For more information, join Eatalia's Facebook group.