And now, the physical journey begins. Let us stop at the Corniche, Ramleh Station.

There is Athineos, whose history reveals the variety of influences in the city, both ethnic and gastronomical. The land where Athineos now stands, 21 Midan Saad Zaghloul, was owned by an Italian Jew. Costantinos Athineos made a deal with him, that he Athineos would build the building and use the lower and basement levels as a glacerie and patisserie, while the Italian would keep the rest of the building. The restaurant was officially opened in 1900. In 1912, the Italian needed money so he mortgaged the building for 3,000 pounds, to be paid over 36 months in monthly installments of 100 pounds. The Italian was allowed to take only 50 pound in rent monthly.

Sèvres, Limoges and Rosenthal made special plates, bonbonnières and jardinières with Athineos stamped on the bottom. The art deco style of the place added a charm that was certainly as Alexandrian as it was European.

In the 50s the wife of Athineos, Catina, started helping him run the place. She introduced new programs, such as ballroom dancing and orchestra twice a week. The crème de la crème of Alexandria flocked to see and be seen.

Constantinos died in 1955. Catina assumed full control of Athineos till 1968, receiving no help from her four children. In 1970 the establishment was sold to Nassar, and today it is run by the son Yacoub Nassar. It is a restaurant and patisserie.

The clientele has changed. More than 70% are tourists who come for lunch or dinner. Seafood, barbecued meat and chicken and some Greek dishes are their main menu. Their specialty is pasta with seafood.

In 2005 the owner walked in at 9 am and found Ahmed Zweil, the Egyptian Nobel prize winner, having breakfast with his family. He told the owner that as a student he used to sit opposite Athineos, on the seaside, and watch the elite of the city walk in and out, and he vowed that he, too, would one day eat there. Naguib Mahfouz, another Egyptian Nobel Laureate, wrote his Miramar in Athineos. The name Miramar was probably inspired by by a café on the seafront by the same name, where the aristocracy of a bygone era used to meet for coffee, now the site of L’Aiglon, and above it was a pension Miramar.

Pasta with seafood

500 g pasta of choice, cooked to al dente, reserve cooking water
3 tbsp butter
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
100 g fish fillet of choice, cubed
50 g squid, cleaned, cartilage removed and sliced
100 g shrimps, peeled and deveined
200 g oysters, shelled
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp cumin
1 can whole tomatoes, mashed
Parsley, chopped

- Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and add onions and carrots and continue stirring until onions are translucent.
- Add fish fillet then squid then shrimps then oysters stirring for 2 -3 minutes after each addition.
- Add salt, pepper and cumin then add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add pasta to sauté pan and mix well adding 1 or more ladles of pasta cooking water if sauce needs thinning.
- Spoon into a serving dish and garnish with parsley.