same same, but different
This didn’t happen overnight.
We didn’t just wake up and say “oh, let’s open a pizzeria”.
Much like our dough, our story took time. Time, patience, and a lot of love.
It’s a personal story, but one that we must tell, because this is a personal project for us. It’s the culmination of our combined efforts, experiences and sacrifices.
This is not just another pizzeria. It is our passion project.
When people ask us why we’re opening a pizzeria in Egypt, this is what I tell them.
I tell them, first of all, it’s not reaaaaalllyy just a pizzeria. It’s more like a really good flatbreaderia.
I then give a little speech about how the Ancient Egyptians actually discovered leavened bread, and called it ‘btaw’ (look it up!). That word and the flatbread it described found their way into Greek language and cuisine in the form of ‘pita,’ then in Turkish cuisine as ‘pide,’ in Italy as ‘pizza’ and in the Levant as ‘fatayer’.
Pretty much all Mediterraneans have their own version of a pie or flatbread baked in a live fire oven. The only difference between them is in the kind of toppings and fillings used, and some minor details relating to the dough, but the principle is the same: it’s a dressed flatbread baked in an oven. And it’s the people’s food. The most popular food. The simplest food. The BEST food.
My version of pizza, that I was raised with, happens to come in the form of mana’eesh Zaatar we Jibneh and 3arouset Labneh we Zeit, which we often ate for breakfast, but also anytime and always. They’re “Shami” flatbreads, known as fatayer, which roughly translates to Levantine pizza. And they are traditionally made almost identically like the fresh pizzas in Naples, but with different toppings, a slightly different oven, and always a good dash of extra virgin olive oil.
Let me tell you, the first bite of a freshly baked Margherita in one of Napoli's antiche pizzerie took me straight back to my childhood. I never had Neapolitan pizza as a child, but I remember looking at a row of freshly baked cheese fatayer, waiting for our batch to come out of the live fire oven, mouth watering. I remember biting into the same wonderful crust and that amazing melted cheese knowing full well it will burn my mouth (but I didn't care). It was like a deja-vu, but for my taste buds. Except, in my memory, I'm in the ancient streets of Damascus, not Napoli.
And that's when it clicked. I can make both. I HAVE to make both!
So I’ve made it my primary mission to bring amazing flatbreads to Cairo.
First, by being the first and only establishment to serve real Neapolitan pizza in Egypt. We wholeheartedly believe that the Neapolitan pizza is the BEST pizza and the original pizza. Its traditions are well preserved and respected so we will uphold the standard they’ve set (Neapolitan Pizza has a Unesco World Heritage status!). We are the only ones we know in Cairo doing it the traditional way, in a Neapolitan oven, by a Neapolitan-trained baker (aka pizzaiola: me!).
Second, by bridging the gap between our cultures through bread, pizza, olive oil, and a shared history that builds on our Mediterranean identity. I believe there is more that unites us than divides us, and what better way to prove that than through food?
I really can’t wait to share my passion with you all.
We’re coming soon to Maadi, Cairo!