Linguini Fini is an Italian restaurant from Hong Kong started by Robert Spina and Todd Darling. Linguini Fini is focused on artisanal cooking and the sustainability of their ingredients. The first branch in Manila is located at the 3/F of SM Mega Fashion Hall.
Linguini Fini was brought to the Philippines by the Moment Group, one of the if not the hottest restaurant groups around. They run Burger Bar, 8 Cuts, Manam, Cue, Phat Pho and Mecha Uma. They also recently won the rights to open xiao long bao giant, Din Tai Fung.
They make their own pasta daily and try to locally source all their ingredients to ensure better flavor I’m loving the trend of using local ingredients of the many “farm to table” restaurants as it gives the small local farmers a chance to thrive. We have lots of beautiful produce and it deserves a place in people’s plates.
The ambiance is bright and inviting for the family friendly dining crowd in SM Mega Fashion Hall. This is very different from the darker and more edgy look of their Hong Kong restaurant.
I love the fun vibe of the place, with quirky wall murals by different local artists plus interesting seating choices like these metal drum looking stools.
To highlight the quirkiness of the murals, looks at this wall featuring a chicken and Manny Pacquiao. Imagine the conversations that can revolve around those two things while having a meal.
Chef Vincent “Vinny” Lauria is the executive chef of Linguini Fini Hong Kong and he’s in town to personally see that everything runs smoothly. He’s also been inspired by local ingredients to create some dishes that can only be found in Linguini Fini Manila. He also told us he’s cooking up some balut infused pasta, which sounds so deviously interesting.
Richie, Rina, Irene and me had a little lunch date courtesy of the Moment Group to sample what Linguini Fini had to offer. It was quite hard to order because each dish seems to scream “Order me”. We finally whittled it down to a couple of dishes, maybe a bit more than that.
We had some complimentary focaccia bread and home made Iced Tea (P110/refillable) and Lemonade (P110/refillable). The bread was so good and I’m not really a bread person. The iced tea and lemonade were both really good also.
Fried Calamari (P265), a starter I can never seem to resist. Instead of the usual super crispy batter with nary any flavor, Linguini Fini’s calamari are on the soft side but the flavorful batter makes up for it in a big way. Each piece is so well seasoned with a spicy kick that you hardly need to dip it into the chili aioli, a squeeze of the lemon to add a little zest is all you need.
Artisan Salumi (P765). A platter of Italian cured meats and giardineria, pickled vegetables. The giardineria are perfect foil for the cured meats so try and eat them together.
Italian Hanger Cobb Salad (P375/small). Mixed greens with a six minute egg, pancetta, hanger steak tips and Gorgonzola dressing. Break the egg and let the yolk add a nice creamy sheen to the whole salad. There a mix of flavors and textures that is very enjoyable but the surprise was how wonderfully seasoned the hanger steak tips are.
Next up was pizza, our choice was The Bronx (P785). A manly tomato sauce pizza topped with sausages, pepperoni, porchetta, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Chewy crust with savory meat all throughout each slice with a spicy kick. If you want even more spice then add some of their excellent pickled chili’s.
I love the organized chaos you can see from the open kitchen at Linguini Fini. You can see everything they do with each plate of food that comes out and don’t even mention the aroma that entices you.
Lamb Rigatoni (P395) with lamb and sweet onion ragu. Irene picked this one and was expecting a tomato based dish to come out so she was a bit disappointed. Flavor wise, the lamb pieces are tender and a good amount of gaminess to pair with the sweet onion ragu. This is more my kind of pasta dish, sweet and flavorful that I think many kids will enjoy.
Orechiette (P345). This was the runaway pasta winner. Orechiette small ear shaped pasta that is similar to gnocchi but are from the Puglia region of Italy. This is one of the dishes only available in Linguini Fini Manila, added to the menu because Chef Vinny was inspired by the local longganisa and tossed with chili leaves and Pecorino Romano. The orechiette is dense and chewy and and is a joy to eat. You must order this….
Nonna’s Meatball and Sausage (P485). Big pieces of sausage, and meatball covered in Sunday gravy. The meatball was densely packed but still tender and meaty and it’s best paired with the gravy.
The crowning glory was the thick slab of Porchetta (P595). Slow roasted and stuffed with fennel and other herbs served with some greens and caramelized onion marmalata. This is as meaty as you can get with crispy skin and robustly flavored meat. I dare say this is the best porchetta I’ve ever had so far. We had the kitchen chop it up for easier sharing and eating.
Almond Panna Cotta (P195). Almond panna cotta inside a glass jar topped with sour cherries and cookie crumble. The sour cherries and oatmeal cookie crumble add some contrasting flavors and textures to the panna cotta but serve it to me plain and I’d just be equally happy. I’d give the smooth and bouncy panna cotta more than two thumbs up if I could.
Blueberry Cheesecake (P295). A densely packed cheesecake with swirls of blueberry baked into it. Served with blueberry compote and almond pie crumble as part of a deconstructed crust. The cheesecake was really good but Irene and I found the blueberry compote a bit too tart for us (not your usual Comstock topping here).
Rina got the Hot Chocolate Affogato (P165). A twist on the usual affogato but with hot chocolate replacing coffee.
Linguini Fini‘s first branch in Manila is a keeper and a great addition to the host of restaurants in SM Mega Fashion Hall. Carefully thought out dishes using locally sourced produce is a concept people should really get behind. Price points are quite good except for the pizzas which are a bit more expensive. I can’t wait to go back and try a lot more items on the menu that caught my eye as well as what Chef Vinny might come up with as he stalks our local markets.
Linguini Fini3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall Edsa cor. Julia Vargas Ave.,
Ortigas, Mandaluyong City,
Metro Manila Contact No.: (632) 531-3302
Facebook Page: Linguini Fini Manila
Webpage: Linguini Fini Manila
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