COCONUTS HOT SPOT — We must admit, sometimes it all sounds the same to us: organic, authentic, artisan, handcrafted—which is actually just another word for artisan—farm-to-table—did we miss any new culinary term that restaurants are flagging up our faces?
So you can confirm our feeling ‘meh’ toward Linguini Fini, an Italian restaurant from Hong Kong that the Moment group—of Cue, 8 Cuts, and Burgerbar fame (just to name a few)—has brought to Manila. Linguini Fini, which boasts of being an, ehem, “farm-to-table, nose-to-tail” restaurant, opens this week.
Needless to say, we scarfed down our judgmental thoughts, along with the delicious pasta and the pizza and the porchetta that Linguini Fini served during the press preview. They are not just serious, but earnest about this whole farm-to-table, sustainable way of eating.
Apart from a lovely subtle difference in using fresh local produce as opposed to industrialized store-bought anything, this kind of cooking allows for creativity in the kitchen. Which, we assume, is what excites chefs all around the world. We suppose that’s also part of the charm of Linguini Fini. The love and care and excitement of executive chef Vinny Lauria—not to mention his creativity—shine through and through.
Because of their farm-to-table ideology, uniformity among their locations is put to the back seat. “There are some dishes from the Hong Kong location that aren’t available here, and there are some dishes here that aren’t available there,” explains Todd Darling, the founder of Homegrown Foods, of which Linguini Fini is a part.
As if to say they are serious about this whole go-local, farm-to-table thing, local street artist Deejae Pa’este’s art adorn the gray walls that look intentionally unfinished—even the ripped-off posters looks deliberate, as the tiles which are supposedly revealed.
On the right of the 130-seater restaurant is an open kitchen from where diners can see their food being cooked, and a little further in are booth seatings that remind us of cute 1950’s–inspired diners.
They are cleverly going for the casual-cool look, repurposing large (garbage) cans into stools, painting them mint green and pairing them with a long red table.
What we like best about Linguini Fini are the generous portions of ingredients. They may not be the biggest in size, but dishes here are jampacked with ingredients for a truly sulit, and very satisfying meal. We suggest you skip the starters and go straight for the carbs. Carbs, pasta specially, is your friend at Linguini Fini; it is made-in-house here.
But, if you need a warm up (as most people do) we suggest getting the generously plated Artisan Salumi (PHP765). Cured meats and giardiniera straight outta Italy along with pickled vegetables should set mood right.
Order any of the Signature Linguini Fini pasta dishes (starts at PHP235), but please make sure to order the Parpadelle “Nose to Tail Bolo” (PHP430). This is one dish that can be found in all Linguini Fini locations across Asia. A prime example of that whole “nose-to-tail” brouhaha, there’s pork testa, veal, and oxtail ragu tangling beautifully with the parpadelle on the plate. Generous portions of each ingredient make for one super hearty dish.
If you’re not feeling pork, but still want to do pasta, the Spaghetti Bavette (PHP495) is a good option, what with crab meat and aligue mixed with chili, mint and dayap. It’s very tasty; you’ll think it’s still meat you’re eating and not seafood.
As for the pizza, we couldn’t get enough of the Longganisa & Scamorza pie (PHP755): 12-inch thin pizza loaded with so much pork and cheese it borders on sinful. Hot tip: this is rather heavy in terms of taste, flavor, and volume so ask the super accommodating wait staff for the pickled chili and generously top your slice. Don’t worry about the heat factor; this thing is like magic. It lifts the flavor and adds a whole new spectrum to the dish.
There are other dishes here, too, like the porchetta (PHP485) which the owners and the chef couldn’t stop raving about. Rubbed in fennel and roasted for hours and hours on end, this is a dish you shouldn’t tread lightly on. Order when impressing a date, upon meeting the parents of your girlfriend for the first time, or your boss; never for wala-lang. Because there’s a lot that goes on in that porchetta—as the rest of Linguini Fini. It’s not farm-to-table, nose-to-tail for nothing.
Linguini Fini 3/F Mega Fashion Hall (Bldg D), SM Megamall, Mandaluyong; +63 2 5313302. Daily 10am-10pm.