Elite and Asteria

Precisely at the end of rue Safia Zaghloul, Elite and Asteria look across the street at each other. Both are owned by Greeks, and both are barely surviving, having lost all their old clientele and allure. Elite used to be larger, and have an extension on the pavement, with a full upstairs dining room with a live singer. It witnessed days of glory in up until the last two decades, but its real fame lay in its proprietress, the late Madame Christina, who passed away a few years ago. It was Madame Christina who presided over the establishment and received the clients like a gracious hostess receiving her guests. She would join them at the table and entertain them with stories of her famous – and long departed – regulars. The Elite’s specialty, Caprice, is not at all Greek, but French, claims the old cook. He says Madame Christina tasted it in France and brought it back to the Elite. Asteria is a later generation. It was established in the 1960s by Panayoti Zoulous. Originally it was a baker’s shop which was bought out and converted into a pizza shop. After 48 years it is still being run by the descendents of Panayotti. Pizza, cannelloni, louitsi, and different kinds of pasta are offered, although the favorite – at least in memory – is the chocolat mou. While lovers have been the staple clients of Asteria, a number of well-known figures have also patronized the place. They include: Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, actors Ahmed Zaki, Mamdouh Abdel Aleem, Hani Ramzi, Mohamed Sobhi and singer Mustafa Qamar.


250 g ground beef
50 g orzo (commonly known as lissan el asfour in Arabic)
1 tbsp tomato juice
Salt and pepper to taste

- Mix all ingredients in a clay pot.
- Insert in a medium oven for about 20 minutes.