Did the Egyptians Invent Pizza?
Conor Sheils checks out the latest pizza place to hit Zamalek, leaving Il Divino Pizzeria satisfied and with a teeny, tiny novelty pizza box in tow...
There has been much debate about the origins of the humble pizza over the years with a number of countries all vying for a slice of the action. The pizza, as we know it, dates back as far as 17th century Italy where hungry Neapolitans couldn't get enough of the stuff. Indeed, in this era, the native tomato from America appeared on European plates. From Napoli, the commercialisation of prepared pizza with different combinations of toppings such as mozzarella cheese, artichokes and other condiments progressed gradually across Europe. Variations of the dish appeared later including the deep dish style made popular by Italian American immigrants. However many claim the original origins of the dish come from much further back - right here in Egypt. Ancient Egyptians were munching on pizza-style bread as far back as twenty thousand years ago (we also created the first conical oven and thus the technique of rising dough).
The debate has ranged on ever since with Egyptians, Italians, Italian American's having a right old khena2a over the food's origins. With this in mind, I decided to find out the truth by checking out Zamalek's newest pizza hot spot, Il Divino Pizza. My first impressions were mixed as we entered the bright and breezy restaurant on Abou el Feda street. The restaurant, spread across two floors is what some would call compact and cosy, others, a space where one might struggle to swing a cat. Personally, my views were somewhere in the middle. However, the decor is modern and funky; more London chic than Cairo sha3by.
The staff were attentive and friendly and we were seated immediately. The menu's selection was wide and varied offering options to suit almost all tastes. We ordered a selection in an attempt to get an accurate taste of the seemingly endless menu. In honesty, the food itself is pretty damn good - the Margherita light and crunchy, while the Rucola was satisfyingly fresh. Meanwhile, the venue's signature Il Divino pie included everyone's favourite Egyptian pizza staple, the humble hot dog, coming in a close second after our favourite slice of the day, their beef pepperoni pizza. All pizzas were served on a light and crispy base - very Italian, but don't tell the locals we said so. Our favourite thing from the whole outing, however, had to be the adorable mini pizzas, served in even more adorable mini boxes as a little leaving gift. Whoever thought this up is a bona fide genius.
The fusion of Italian and Egyptian styles made for the interesting blend which left most at our table feeling satisfied. In all, the restaurant's food was tasty, the service pleasant despite the limited capacity to move around. As to whether Egyptians really invented the pizza - probably not, but Il Divino makes a good effort at taking the concept and making it their own.
Find out more about Il Divino Pizzeria on their Facebook page here.