Finally, real New York style pizza in Cairo. You didn't hear it here first but it was definitely David Blanks who spotted this Maadi gem before anyone else.
I don’t always agree with what our frenemies at Cairo 360 have to say about the restaurants they review, but I have to hand it to them, they are at the top of their game when it comes to sniffing out the new ones. I don’t know how they do it and openly admit that this is where I go for news.
So I was totally chuffed when I found one before them and couldn’t wait to write it up. Just to be on the safe side, I opened their website before I got down to it, and there it was, a review of Vinny’s Pizzeria already published. Damn it. Would love to know if they found it through my tweets. Of course they will never tell me. Bastards.
So they scooped me again. Worse still, they got it right. This place rocks.
I have been known to complain about Cairo pizza. A lot. I have made public statements like: “Getting a good pizza in this town is like playing roulette;” or, “A really great pizza—like genetic mutation—seems to happen by accident;” or, “My cat makes better pizza.” Now that I’ve discovered Vinny’s—yes, me, I discovered it, you can all fuck off—now that I’ve discovered Vinny’s, I have to change my story: There is good pizza in Cairo. Finally.
A few days ago I was stuck in traffic on Road 9 and bored. I started looking around. I’ve lived here a long time so when I’m bored in traffic, like everyone else, naturally, I stare at stuff—and that’s when I spotted it. Right below Pizza Hut.
My instinct told me, that’s a really dumb move, I give this place nine months, but I came back the next day and ate, and I’m changing that story too. This place has a monumental future. Thin crust pizza, baked properly, with a kicking tomato sauce, just the right amount of cheese, flavourful, hot: I had to get the story behind that. Fortunately the chef, Islam, wandered out of the kitchen at that point, and it was a Wayne’s World moment: “We are not worthy.”
Now here’s where I need you to pay attention.
Islam is a super friendly guy, looks the part—straight out of Sal’s Pizzeria in Do The Right Thing, tats and all, very cool—, and he has developed all the recipes himself. He is well capable of it, both because he started working in Italian restaurants at the age of 12 and, wait for it, because he was the youngest ever Executive Sous Chef at the Four Seasons in Toronto at the age of 24. This man has the chops and you owe it to yourself to get down here and check it out.
As Cairo 360 reported (a7a) there’s a salad bar, the staff are friendly and attentive, the crust is perfect, a perfect New York style pie, the prices are reasonable, and they offer two choices of decadent desserts, the apple pie pizza and the chocolate pie pizza (“Decadent desserts.” That’s a cliché, right?).
What they didn’t do is talk to the owners. I had the chance to meet with one of them, Omar, and he told me the story: After one of his partners took a trip to NYC and tried the pizza there, the clouds parted, the sun shone down, the angels sang, and he realized that this was just what was missing in Cairo. Hell yeah.
And I had to ask Omar why they chose a location directly below Pizza Hut. Being the gentleman he is, he gave a polite answer, but his enigmatic smile and the mischief in his eye said, “If people want to go to Pizza Hut, that’s fine with us because they have no business being in a real pizzeria anyway.” Damn straight Omar.
At the end of the day, all I want to say is that this place is worth the trip no matter what neighbourhood you live in and, oh, as for myself, I learned a valuable lesson, write first, tweet later. A7a.