For years, Sheraton Cairo was the place to head to when any craving for pasta, risotto and other Italian favorites kicked in. La Mamma, which was considered one of the best Italian restaurants in Cairo, was sorely missed when the hotel closed for refurbishment. Now, celebrating the traditions of regional Italian cuisine lovingly preserved by “la mammas” as they set out to establish new lives in America, Giannini’s brings us dishes that have stood the test of time. With a New York influence, may we add!
Type of cuisine:
Italian, with an interesting selection of dishes. Many have evolved to reflect the influence that New York’s big city life has had on the traditional recipes treasured by the immigrant Italian community. Everything is impeccably prepared to the highest culinary standards by Chef Antonio Carrano.
Arancini with Mozzarella and Mushroom, Tuna Filetto and the Saturday Tavolata Lunch, with a tasting selection that encompasses all menu items.
Dishes sampled and ingredients:
After managing to tear our attention away from the amazing Nile view we got down to the serious business at hand. With a tempting basket holding a variety of freshly baked bread accompanied by two tasty olive-based dips to whet our appetites further, we were kept busy until our starters arrived. The ciabatta, focaccia, grissini and brown baguette were oven-fresh and irresistible, dieters be warned!
Sticking to the best Italian tradition, we kicked off with the Tavolata antipasti platter. Creamy white mounds of mozzarella, bresaola, finely sliced beef carpaccio, lightly seared tuna, dainty cherry tomatoes, and lightly grilled herbed shrimp. The addition of shaved Parmesan added a sharp, nutty intensity to it all. The seasoning on each item delivered layers of flavor but never overwhelmed the main ingredient.
Chef Antonio surprised us with a delicious Seafood Gnocchi, having picked up on our comment that we are big gnocchi fans. Rich with tender rounds of squid, succulent shrimp and morsels of white fish, the feather-light gnocchi was bathed in a light, freshly made tomato salsa. Memories of holidays alongside the Italian coast came flooding back in a flash.
Also being dedicated pasta aficionados, we didn’t waste time delving into the Ravioli Genovese that arrived next. A soft mousse created from slow-braised veal shank was encased in freshly made pasta, simmered till al dente, and then coated in a rich caramelized onion sauce. The subtle flavor of the ravioli met with the hearty sweetness of the onion, in harmony.
Paying tribute to New York, our main course was a Rib Eye steak, presented neatly sliced and resting on a bed of polenta. Perfectly sautéed baby vegetables sat like jewels alongside, everything tasted as good as it looked.
Dessert should have been far from our minds at this stage, but who could say no to the Semi-Fredo Tiramisu? Not us!
A visual treat, it came with a caramel mousse and small dollops of intense syrup, and a white china bowl laden with the best dark, light and white chocolate truffles we have ever tried. A great wind up to a very special dining experience.
As sprawling out on a chaise longue to admire the view until sunrise was not an option we finally headed, ever so reluctantly, for home…
Other menu options that appealed: Just bring it on!
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Beverage options: From an iconic martini and aperitif trolley to a good wine list, a full bar and plenty of soft options.
Décor: Echoing the signature autumn tones of the hotel, the interior is comfortable with plenty of privacy. Elegance meets contemporary with the feature wall of black and white posters of New York celebrities with an Italian heritage. Small touches, such as the addition of fresh herb pots add to the mood.
Ambience: Relaxed and cosmopolitan.
Clientele mix: Business diners, groups of friends, couples who appreciate good food.
Price range: Moderate to splurge level for some items. But excellent value for what you pay.
Opening hours: 6:30 pm – 11:30 pm (last food order), with last beverage order one hour later.
Address: Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino Galaa Square, Dokki
Tel: 333 69800
Facebook page: sheratoncairo