Pier 88 NILERIVER
Talking Food with Giovanni Bolandrini and Giorgio Diana
By Hilary Diack
The launch party of this much-awaited addition to the Pier 88 Group took Cairo by storm at the end of May. One week later, Cairo West Magazine caught up with Managing Partner Giovanni Bolandrini and Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Diana for a candid chat about food, life, the Cairo dining scene, and more.
Ensconced in a secluded corner of the spacious, sleekly chic restaurant and lounge, we found the ambience eerily quiet, in recovery mode after a hectic few days of the official launch. Bolandrini and Diana, in contrast, were still in high adrenalin mode; chapeau to both of them for being able to stand the pace, scraping by on a few hours sleep.
Had the overwhelming reaction to the launch caught them by surprise, we wondered?
"Sure, we knew it was going to be busy," said Bolandrini, "but when we found ourselves fully booked for both the early and late seating every day, with a waiting list of around 200, we were put straight into full operation mode. The atmosphere was electric, we have a great element of theatre in Pier 88 NILERIVER, the food is prepared directly in front of the guests so it is a performance in itself."
The cuisine is predictably top-notch, as we found with the lunch graciously whipped up by the chef himself. Impeccably fresh, sweet scallops came accompanied by baby carrots, asparagus, baby corn and miniscule dollops of an intense dressing and paprika-dusted popcorn. Served with champagne foam, the visual effect was stunning, and the multi-layered flavor sensations memorable. Desserts were shared, how could we limit ourselves to just one when the element of adventure spurred us on? It would be giving the show away if we divulged too much, but rest assured, the tiramisu was a delight, with a sense of fun in the presentation, and the panna cotta proved to be anything but simple. Again, a feast for the eyes, the plate was a masterpiece of sweet textures, fresh and cool, blending with soft and creamy, in a rainbow of colors.
How, we mused, have the guests reacted to this highly innovative Michelin-starred approach to cuisine?
" What we have set out to do is bring the excitement of fashion, my previous field, and transform that into our dishes," Bolandrini explained. "We transmit the love of what we are doing into our cuisine, and our guests trust us and are willing to venture beyond their normal eating habits."
The flagship restaurant in El Gouna already boasts a dedicated clientele, and we have no doubt that this new addition to the scene will be the place to dine for the cognoscenti for quite a while. Even better, there are plans under way for another outlet in Giza, so watch this space.