Official Website: www.linguinifini.com
Location: 3F SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Reservations Contact No.: +632 5313302
Facebook: Linguini Fini Manila
The ramen hype must be running out of broth. The “Soho Pizza-Pasta” trend has been slowly boiling in the back burner for quite some time from local Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza, to New York’s Motorino at Greenbelt, and the opening of Va Bene Pasta Deli’s branch at Bonifacio Global City. The trend is clearly picking up and Moment Group, founded by Abba Napa, Eliza Antonino and Jon Syjuco, certainly knows when to strike while the iron is hot. (Look out: They are the same group that will bring Din Tai Fung here in Manila!)
From the people who brought you 8 Cuts Burger Blends, Phat Pho Manila, Manam and Cue Modern Barbecue, Moment Group partnered with Hong Kong’s Homegrown Foods founder Todd Darling in bringing Linguini Fini Manila. A bit of background about Homegrown Foods: they have strong umbrella of products from eggs, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and more. Under Homegrown Foods’ watch are the brands Stone Nullah Tavern, Posto Pubblico and of course, Linguini Fini. (Recently, Linguini Fini’s Hong Kong branch has now closed and will be moving to Soho soon.)
What’s key to every Italian restaurant is the freshness of the pasta, the ingredients and its Executive Chef Vinny Lauria certainly knows when to take advantage of his cooking techniques. Chef Vinny is the “Fergus Henderson of Hong Kong” and his “Nose to Tail” philosophy is simple – he doesn’t intend on letting key portions of the pig go to waste, as every single offal of the pig has flavors that need to be unlocked. Much can be seen in Chef Vinny’s Pappardelle “Nose-to-Tail” Bolo that employs this Nose-to-Tail cuisine.
The Daily Routine
Linguini Fini thrives on its name which is its signature pasta meaning “fine little tongue”. Aptly emblazoned in their logo is the tongue that cleverly resembled how the pasta is made.
As early as 6:00am, La Monferrinna pasta machines start to build pasta made from scratch. And as 7:00am hits the clock, Linguini Fini Manila’s pork purveyors brave the Manila traffic and makes sure that the pork arrives on the dot — I cannot deny why I am dubious in Linguini Fini’s concept to have everything fresh, and I cannot help but wonder if this was the reason why Pappardelle “Nose-to-Tail” Bolo was unavailable during the day. And you’ve been in the Manila traffic many times to have seen pigs in trucks furiously trying to breathe. Hence the stress in pork meat. (Update: On my second visit, Linguini Fini’s Pappardelle Nose to Tail Bolo was already available and highly recommended to me by the energetic staff.)
(A little bit of trivia. I know this is disgusting to read but it’s good to know: If the animal is stressed before it’s slaughtered, the reduced levels in lactic acid in the animal’s muscles after rigor mortis will greatly affect the quality of the meat and the lactic acid is responsible for the making the meat tender and flavorful.)
Lunch isn’t serve until 11:00am, but the Chef ensures everything is a well-oiled machine for a hearty meal at Linguini Fini. I like the idea of an open kitchen, and I admire the dynamics of the chef to ensure the dishes is in perfect, Linguini Fini signature before the customer sees it.
Dissecting the Italian Hangar Cobb – P375
Linguini Fini, are you sure that pork and pasta are your only specialty? Because the Hangar steak tips in your Italian Hangar Cobb is fantastic.
Hangar cuts “hang” just below the diaphragm of a cow and is prized with flavor. The Hangar was a bit tough, more than medium rare, but I love the sweetness of the meat. I enjoyed it more than the Mixed Greens that is tad too salty for me with the gorgonzola dressing. Pancetta is tossed along with Linguini Fini’s Italian Hangar Cobb and quite good.
I wasn’t too crazy about the 6-minute egg doneness. No runny yolk for me.
Bavette – P495
Fresh crab meat, aligue, chili mint, and dayap – it doesn’t sound what you normally would put in pasta, and at the same time, it showcases the pride of Manila’s ingredients. Linguini Fini Manila, there are dishes that won’t be found in Hong Kong’s branch, such as the Longganisa and Scamorza Pizza. I can’t imagine putting Chinese sausage in pizza! Kidding.
The Bavette was our second choice of pasta, its uniqueness being the reason. Flavor is quite strong, and to the tomato-based pasta lovers out there, it’s deceiving to the faint-hearted. It’s spicy and with the citrus flavors of the dayap fruit, the pasta is a game changer. Pasta is perfectly al dente, so you have nothing to worry about that.
My vote still goes to that hangar steak. Perhaps, I shall order the Charred Hangar Steak on my next visit. This should really cure my craving.
Porchetta – P485
Porchetta originated in Ariccia, a province in Rome, and is one of the traditional Italian foods held at high importance because of its cultural relevance. Here at Linguini Fini, you’ll find nothing short of their “Porketta”.
To the pork lovers, the Porchetta is unbelievably cheap and looks reminiscent of Livestock’s roasted pork belly. Indeed, Linguini Fini’s Porchetta won my heart. The meat is unbelievably flavorful, savoury, fatty and moist, being fennel-rubbed. It’s sitting under foccacia that absorbed much of its oils so I just loved everything about the dish. On the side is chili mostardo, which I must say, is hands down, the best dip for this pork belly.
This chopped Porchetta is good for 2-3 people to share.
Gremolata Rice – P95
Perhaps, to the non-rice person, the Gremolata Rice will surely change your mind. I myself was drawn to its fragrant, very spiffy rice that matches well with the Porchetta. It’s topped with oven roasted tinapa flakes with a spike of lemon zest, something that is again, locally sourced and showcases much of the Filipino-Italian fusion cuisine that Linguini Fini is aiming for.
I am in love with the Gremolata Rice. Period.
Cheese Pizza – P390
While I was still immersed with the delicious Gremolata Rice, our serving of Cheese pizza finally arrived. It was pretty decent pizza. Of course, where is Cheese pizza without the King of Cheese’s Grana Padano and Parmigiano? I’d love to try the Manila Caprese soon, perhaps on my next visit.
Pappardelle Nose to Tail Bolo – P430
At a reasonable price of P430, Chef Vinny Lauria’s prowess on the Nose to Tail philosophy brings its true colors on Linguini’s bestseller, the Pappardelle Nose to Tail Bolo.
It was without a doubt, one of the best pasta I ever tasted. Al dente, very comforting to eat, and the offal flavors of pork testa, veal, and oxtail ragu (that was made for almost a week) are right about bursting in every bite. Sprinkled with parmigiano cheese, it’s tomato based, something that everyone is familiar about. I can definitely recommend this pasta to anyone looking to grab a bite at Linguini Fini. And please, don’t forget the delicious Porchetta.
Serving everything fresh from scratch comes at a price. Your food arrives after quite some time and takes a bit of patience. Service is still keeping up with its slew of customers and can be forgiven at its second day of operation. (Update: On my second visit, they seem to be improving a lot on their service, and that’s really really great. Here at Candid Cuisine, I don’t forever stick to a rating per visit, but I usually adjust depending on the restaurant’s performance, looking at it as a whole.)
I liked that Linguini Fini aims for sustainability in harnessing the untapped potential of local ingredients and we give deserving exposure to our local community of farmers. We have so much local resources that we can make use of and I have no doubts that our country has great potential in becoming an agriculture powerhouse. But the challenges of logistics is something that the government needs to fix — in order for Linguini Fini to succeed.
Linguini Fini Manila Rating:
|Taste and Originality:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Customer Experience:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Value for Money:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Brick and Mortar:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Average:||(3.4 / 5)|