Saturday July 13th, 2024
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Downtown’s Jade: A Persevering Love Affair Between Past & Pizza

More than just an Italian eatery, Jade… “brings together a community over pizza, beer, and music…” at a venue hailed in history.

Ziyad El-Helbawy

Downtown’s Jade: A Persevering Love Affair Between Past & Pizza

“I created an experience for myself and so many other people and I’m quite proud of it. Nights at Jade just truly have a different flavor.”

More than just a pizzeria, restaurant, or bar, Jade nurtures a community in the heart of a city riddled with history. "I said I'd do something to bring a sense of nostalgia to 20th century Egypt and bring together a community over pizza, beer, and music," Jade’s founder, Ragy Banna, tells SceneEats. 

Nestled amidst the recently renovated architectural marvel of the Cinema Radio building in Downtown Cairo, the origins of which can be traced to the 1900s, Jade fills its art deco spaces with a refined air of a bygone era. French-Egyptian founder Ragy Banna, equipped with degrees and experience in both tourism and culinary arts, meticulously selected this venue for its historical significance. 

Initiated into the prestigious culinary society La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs some time following his graduation, the flames of gastronomic intrigue that would come to define his career were kindled within Banna. Beginning as a curious amateur, he sharpened his skills in the professional kitchen, rising to the esteemed title of Grand Officier Maître Restaurateur.

In the early 2000s, Banna fully immersed himself in Egypt's dynamic F&B scene, spearheading major restaurants and eateries throughout the country. Yet it was when Ragy tied the knot with the love of his life, Rania, that he was encouraged to start off his own culinary venture. “Rania was the engine and the driving force behind the creation of Jade.” Banna tells us.

"I started looking for places, and Cinema Radio just popped up. It was perfect. and I absolutely fell in love...The venue I picked had been closed for over 30 years, it was never a restaurant or a bar, it used to be the Columbia Hall, a really old shop that sold vinyl records…I knew this was the place. There was no other decision to be made, this was it.”

Of course, it is Jade's delectable Italian menu that truly brings patrons through the door time and time again. Crafted according to authentic recipes, Neapolitan pizzas tantalize with unexpected but harmonious toppings combinations, such as the standout ‘Salmone Blu’ sprinkled with smoked salmon, tangy lemon zest, and blue cheese. “For people who love to spit fire,” Ragy jokes, “VERY spicy, chorizo sausage with red chili pepper is on the menu.” Calzones, salads, appetizers and more enticing options line the menu. Meanwhile, Jade's artisanal cocktails and extensive wine and beer lists quench every thirst.

The old world ambiance at the venue seamlessly pairs with Jade's delectable Italian fare, combining Banna’s two passions in life, history, and hearty authentic food. Alongside founder Ragy Banna and his partner Bassem Abdelnour, Ragy’s wife Rania contributes her own French-inspired touches, such as a pizza awash in creamy goat cheese, savory caramelized onions, and honeyed dried fig - a sophisticatedly sweet and savory blend evoking the quality of a Parisian patisserie.

With 97% of ingredients locally sourced, Banna is proud to say that “we're fully and wholly Egyptian." When one visits Jade, a certain tranquility (tried and indeed tested) and a sense of conversational ease just seem to permeate the air. Great pizza, great company, great music, and maybe-not-always-so-great voices on the Karaoke make for the perfect finale to any not-so-perfect day.

Founder Ragy Banna's dream extends beyond Jade. He envisions adding more precious stones to his culinary repertoire, paying homage to different cuisines and cultures. The journey has just begun, and Ragy, with his wife Rania by his side, is determined to create more culinary concepts that captivate the senses.

Oh and, we almost forgot, did you know you can get all of Jade’s succulent and sensational creations straight from the Botit app for instant delivery? Yep…you’re welcome.