Thursday, October 9, 2014


                When I was young, whenever people would ask me what my favorite food was, I was quick to answer, "Italian". Funnily enough, my claim was largely influenced by my favorite cartoon character, "Garfield", and his love for Lasagna. Truth be told, the only three Italian dishes I knew were Spaghetti, Pizza and Lasagna. I had yet to understand the gastronomic wonders of a creamy Risotto. Never had I experienced that immeasurable joy you get in every bite of crispy Porchetta.    

           As I got older and my aversion to tomato based dishes became stronger, I slowly strayed away from my "first love". Lasagna would be something I would have during family dinners, and I pretty much considered Pizza and Spaghetti as American fare than Italian. 

          It took a stroll down to Linguini Fini, the newly opened restaurant at SM Mega Fashion Hall to reawaken my senses to the awesomeness that is Italian cuisine. 
          And you know what they say.. First love never dies.
          Especially when it's covered in cheese.

             After much success in Hong Kong, Linguini Fini was brought to the country by our friends at The Moment Group (I call them "friends" because anyone that had something to do with bringing 'CueBurger Bar8 Cuts and Namnam (now "Manam") into my life is considered my friend for life). 

          Linguini Fini's Philippine invasion is spearheaded by no less than the Hong Kong Branch's Executive Chef, Vinny Lauria, who is really quite the character. Chef Vinny explained to us that his main purpose here in the country, was to make sure that the ideals and standards of quality that made Linguini Fini a hit in Hong Kong, is upheld here in the country. 

       Linguini Fini strongly believes in only serving the freshest ingredients.. Every single one of their pastas, and even the butchering of their meat.. everything is done in-house.

       Chef Vinny also strongly believes in sourcing ingredients locally. He explained to us that as a chef, he no doubt has some recipes that he believes work best with certain ingredients from specific regions of the world. However, when said ingredients are not available, he takes the thought of tweaking his dishes to fit the local resources as an exciting challenge. 

       This way, the restaurant is able to help the local economy, giving back to our hardworking farmers, instead of paying triple to have some herbs imported from another country.    

        The look of Linguini Fini breaks the mold of Italian restaurant that you expect your grandfather to choose for a Sunday after-church family dinner. The place is youthful and vibrant, with a collection of  colorful murals and artistic graffiti adorning the walls.


            The Focacia bread they gave us for starters was a nice way to whet our appetites. The warm, soft, bread served as a nice bed to the balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture. 

          Leave it to me to use that bread and take Linguini Fini's Artisan Salumi (P765), and made myself an Italian sandwich that would blow anything from Subway out of the water. The Artisan Salumi is a platter of various cured Deli Meats, giardineria, and in-house pickled vegetables. Each type of meat had a disctinct type of flavor that made this platter quite the adventure.

                I'm sure you're all aware of my aversion to Salads by now, but I must admit that I consider the Italian Hanger Cobb Salad (P375 Small/P585 Large), a "lesser evil". The freshly tossed greens are drizzled with a robust Gorgonzola dressing, and topped off with a delicately cooked six minute egg, thin strips of crisp panchetta, and incredibly tender hanger steak tips. 

          Our sampling of antipasti continued with Linguini Fini's Fried Calamari (P265). The juicy squid rings were lightly coated in an herb infused battered, with some chopped chili's giving it a bit of a kick. A Chili-Aioili dip is served on the side For those looking for stronger punch of heat.

          I was excited to try something from Linguini Fini's selection of Pizzas, and I don't think I could have chosen a better one to try than The Bronx (P785). When It comes to pizzas I'm more of a "The More Meat, the Merrier" kind of guy. The Bronx is filled with delectable meats such as sausage, pepperoni, and.. wait for it.. Porchetta! If that isn't enough to satiate your meat cravings, you must be a puma or something. The pie is coated in a tangy tomato sauce, and topped with Mozzarella Cheese. 

      Nonna's Meatball and Sausage (P485) was quite delicious, but not exactly what I was expecting. Both the sausage and meatball were delightfully flavorful, but what was advertised as "Sunday Gravy", which turned out to be a tomato based meat sauce. Though I was hoping for a reprieve from the tomato heavy entrees, I still enjoyed this very much.

           After being deceived  by the Sunday Gravy, it was now the Lamb Rigatoni (P395) that pulled the wool over my eyes. I'm not an expert in Italian Cuisine, but I always associated "Ragu" with tomatoes. Instead, the ragu was made with sweet onions, that worked wonderfully with the gamey flavor of the diced lamb bits. 

         The pasta dish that I enjoyed immensely was the Orechiette (P345). This was actually the first time I had ever heard of this type of pasta, and I took to it immediately.  As Chef Vinny sourced different ingredients during his R & D time in the Philippines, he discovered a fondness for our longaniza, and realized he could create something really special with the Orechiette pasta, which is so named because it is shaped like small ears (Kinda weird name for a pasta if you ask me).

       Mixed with a bit Chili leaves for gentle notes of heat and balanced by a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano, the Orechiette is something I would definitely order again. 

            Speaking of ordering a dish again, it goes without saying that when I go back to Linguini Fini, I will most definitely be ordering their Porchetta (P595) once again. The slow roasted hunk of pork was stuffed with a medley of herbs, giving the unbelievably tender meat a touch of fragrance, all whist keeping the skin deliciously crispy. The meat went perfectly with the caramelized onion marmalata condiment, which offered a pairing of gentle sweetness.  


      An interesting dessert that Linguini Fini has is the Hot Chocolate Affogato (P165). I don't drink coffee so I felt this was a better alternative to the caffeine laced version. 

     Hot Chocolate is poured into a small shot glass filled with a bit of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Milk Gelato, making for an amazing dessert. 

             I'm a huge fan of Blueberry Cheesecake, so I really wanted to try Linguini Fini's version. The Blueberry Cheesecake (P295) had a swirl of blueberries within it, and a generous helping of blueberry compote poured over it, that I found just a tad too tart for my liking. Thankfully I discovered that the Almond Pie Crumble was a nice counter to the tartness of the blueberries. 

             Much like the Blueberry Cheesecake, I enjoyed the Almond Panna Cotta (P195) without its topping, which was Sour Cherry Jam. The almond Panna Cotta itself though was absolutely divine. It had a smooth, yet subtle creaminess, that went went perfectly with its Oatmeal Cookie Crumble topping. 

      One meal at Linguini Fini made me realize how much more dishes there are to explore in Italian Cuisine. Sure there are the comforting classics, but there are so many other dishes that we have yet to discover, with Linguini Fini more than willing to help further educate our palates. 

   Part of what made Linguini Fini an incredibly fun dining experience was meeting the irrepressible Chef Vinny. Hearing stories from the man himself, and just watching him in action, both at the back and front of the house was really something awe-inspiring. The man, backed by his loyal staff, is the heart and soul of Linguini Fini.  

       With its bringing of Linguini Fini to our shores, The Moment Group continues to prove that it is the one of the hottest Restaurant Groups in the country today! Caught up with one of the partners, high school friend Jon, during our lunch there! 

        I'll definitely be back soon!

Linguini Fini
3/Flr SM Mega Fashion Hall
Follow Linguini Fini Manila on Facebook

Linguini Fini Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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