Eatalian, Phase 2 City Stars.

Let me get this out of the way first: Eatalian is not cheap. According to my math you’ll end up spending an extra 10% premium for an experience which, at first glance, is comparable to eating cold hors d’eurves at a freezing and ghastly green storage facility.

That having been said, once you actually get past the unsightly green décor, uncomfortable tables and chairs and unfortunate location in the middle of City Stars’ “family food court” in phase 2, you come to the realization that Eatalian, in fact, is good.

Quite Good. Memorable, even…

I’ve had their wild mushroom risotto, which is a classic recipe. Comparing this risotto to the only other wild mushroom risotto I’ve ate in Cairo – that of Le Gourmandise at the First Mall – I can proclaim Eatalian as the winner by knockout in the first round. This Risotto is creamy, al dente and literally explodes with flavor, especially if you’re fortunate enough to get a piece of fresh mushroom cap on your spoonful. I say fortunate, because I was in the company of two skeptics; and we all decided to share off the menu in the communal spirit of the Italians. The mushroom caps were so good that my good friends turned into growling rottweilers, baring their pearly whites whenever I pointed my spoon in the general direction of those wonderful caps.

We moved on to the Bresaola antipasti, Milanese Caprese Salad and a Grilled Tenderloin Crostini. I will not wax on poetic about how good they were, but apparently my moans of ecstasy bothered the veiled and bearded couple sitting to my rear, and they promptly got up and left before waiting for their menus. Perhaps it was for the best; one bite of the Bresaola would have turned the Mr. Beard into a wild love-making machine, while the Mrs. Veil would have kicked up her burkha and performed a striptease on the wooden tables.

Served on wooden chopping boards, I felt that this was real Man’s Food; consumed to provide fuel for the torrid love that Italians are purported to make. There was nothing complicated about the presentation – it was simple, beautiful and made me want to lick it all over.

Eatalian and its far-eastern cousin Wagamama are both owned and managed by the same company that operates Casper and Gambini. The good news is that this means the tradition of fresh ingredients and perfect cooking techniques are handed down to the younger franchises. The bad news is that Eatalian’s weakness seems to have also been inherited from its bigger brothers – the Desserts.

Italian Soda, Ricotta Cheesecake – two opportunities for greatness, two immense failures. The manager of Eatalian, a tall, svelte Lebanese gentleman named Paul (whose named when Egyptified sounds woefully like the Arabic word for urine) endeavored to explain to me that the cheesecake was not bad – my sense of taste was wrong. Intrigued by this technique, I indulged him as he proclaimed to have been trained in Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, and holds a degree in food history (or at least took a course in it). Now if he were, in fact, trained at Michelin starred restaurants, he should know that the customer’s comfort is of the utmost importance. When faced with the irrefutable fact that a raspberry coulis should be sans seeds, he declared that Italians are rustic, and as a rustic Italian restaurant, Eatalian does not strain the seeds out of its raspberry sauce. The sauce tasted fantastic, but the seeds really got in the way.

I think I may have missed something: Since when did Feng Shue-ing a pizza become “rustic”? There is nothing rustic about Eatalian, and the sooner the management realizes this, the better. They will lose the incongruous décor; which looks like it was stolen from a color blind carpenter’s loft in Manhattan. Green makes me want to grab a shovel and start planting shit – not grab a fork and begin eating.

It is worthy to note that this is the world’s first branch of Eatalian; with more coming in Dubai, Beirut and Saudi Arabia. It occupies the same niche as Casper and Gambini, Waterlemon (not yet in Egypt, thank god) and now, Ruby Tuesday’s – all vying for the Yappie crowd (Young Arab Professionals).

Does it stand a chance? Perhaps.

Does it stand apart? Not for long.

Cooking time: 25 Minutes

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About Wesam E Masoud
Chef Patron of @chefsmarketmasr, Host of @CBCSofra's #matbakh101. I have one degree in Medicine & 3rd degree burns from cooking.

2 Responses to Eatalian, Phase 2 City Stars.

  1. Munqy says:

    To be honest, I was not overly wowed by Eatalian. The pasta I had was not just al Dente, it was positively raw, while the sauce was unappetizing. The best thing was the Caprese salad, and let’s face it, tomatos, cheeze and oregano can’t really go wrong.

  2. loomz says:

    I went to eatalian a couple of months ago and have been thinking about going back ever since. My experience was literally orgasmic. Everything from the appetizers to the main, to the desserts were incredible! Obviously you werent impressed with the desserts, but maybe thats because you didnt try the tiramsu or the bodini. I tried both as we shared with freinds (again reminiscint of the italian experience). I urge you to go again and try the rest of the stuff. On another note…. Hi 🙂

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