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FINESTRA: The Finest Taste of Italy in Manila! @SolaireResort

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FINESTRA is the authentic Italian restaurant of Solaire Resort. One of four signature restaurants there, it boasts beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows that look out into the Manila Bay and the Solaire pool. Finestra is well-named, given that it means 'windows' in Italian.

We just came from a recent food trip of the Veneto region in Italy, so I was happy to discover that the quality of cheeses, antipasto spread, handmade pasta and wood fire oven-cooked pizza is the same quality you would get in Italy. We were pleased to hear that most of the ingredients are directly imported from Italy and that the Executive Chef is Italian.

So far, this is the closest you can get to the romantic flavors of Italy in Manila.

SOLAIRE RESORT: The Game is About to Change Series

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It's hard not to be impressed by the sophisticated ambiance -- artworks from the finest local artists, high quality tables and chairs, exquisite ceiling, and attention to every detail of the dining experience.

FINESTRA MENU: Antipasto, Soup, La Pizzeria, Risotto| Hand Crafted Pasta, Entrees | La Pasticceria (Dessert)

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I love the high ceiling, beautiful acoustics, and the feeling of privacy in every table. The resto has one private room if you really need to have a closed door.

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During dinner time, there is a bar lounge section where you can hang out for cocktails, starting at 6pm.

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It's great that they have an open kitchen, which is like a live theatrical performance of the culinary team in bringing each dish to life as you order.

 

ANTIPASTO

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The ideal time to go is during lunch time where you can enjoy one of the best Antipasto buffets I've seen here in Manila. I love those blood-red cherry tomatoes and the vegetables in olive oil.

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Executive Chef Salvatore de Vincentis, the Italian chef formerly from Paparazzi in EDSA Shangri-La, said that the secret to FINESTRA is that most of the ingredients are indeed imported from Italy.

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In Italy, the soft, white Buffalo Mozzarela cheese was one of my favorite starters. I usually paired it with thinly sliced prosciutto and juicy tomatoes. Sarap!

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★ Tasting of Italian cheese and cold cuts from Lucania with artisan jams and home-baked bread (for 2 persons).

If you dine at night, you can order a plate of the Antipasto sampler.

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Gas or No Gas? Natural or Sparkling Water?

Yes, these are the same brands of water they serve you in Italy.  They say Europeans are addicted to sparkling water, but I still can't appreciate having bubbles in my water.

 

MAIN COURSE #1: Pizza or Pasta

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★ Margherita Bufalina with tomato, buffalo mozzarella from Salerno, and basil.

This pizza was very good, with its just-right chewy thin crust and yummy buffalo mozzarella cheese.

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★ Porcini Mushroom Risotto with late season harvest porcini mushrooms and parmigiano.

We loved the al dente risotto, the flavors of the mushrooms, and the hint of truffle.

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★ Lasagna "Classica Al Forno" with prime beef, creamy sauce, tomatoes and Stracchino cheese and ★ Spaghetti Chittra "Guitar String Spaghetti" with peperoncino, tuna and sundried tomatoes.

Classic Italian yumminess: Handmade pasta combined with the finest ingredients and flavorful sauce!

 

MAIN COURSE #2: Main Entrees

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Veal cutlet "Milanese" with cauliflower, chopped tomatoes and arugula.

This was as yummy and as big as the ones we ate in Milan. Although, it would be better if the vegetables were served on the side instead of on top.

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★ Sardinian lamb chops "Pizzaiola" with potatoes and roasted eggplants.

This was highly recommended and the tastiest among all the entrees we tasted. I loved how the soft lamb meat was cooked just right.

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Roasted Branzino, prawns with Vesuvius tomatoes and candied lemon.

This dish had a big chunk of European Sea Bass in the unique-tasting sauce.

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★ Veal Ossobuco in Gremolata, bone marrow and Tuscan pappardelle.

This is best eaten by combining a slice of the veal, a portion of the pasta, and the tomato sauce mixed with the fatty bone marrow.

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I enjoyed my Finestra dinner with these guys who couldn't stop raving about the food!

Italian meals are usually served individually over 4 courses, but since we're in Manila, we didn't mind sharing the big portions of the entrees to get a little piece of everything. :)

 

DESSERT!

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★ Hazelnut Gelato. (Daily selection of homemade gelatos and sorbets per scoop)

This is the best dessert in Finestra! It's like enjoying Grom-quality gelato here in Manila. Order the Hazelnut flavor. :)

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Panna Cotta with caramelized orange.

Served in a big glass with a thick layer of orange, the panna cotta was good. However, it was overshadowed by the other desserts we ordered.

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Tiramisu Solaire.

The classic Italian tiramisu was presented with Solaire flair.

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Calzone Nutella.

The dough of the calzone was too heavy and it just had little Nutella inside. This is not a good idea for dessert. :(

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★ 24 Karat Chocolate Fondant.

Yes, this is best way to eat chocolate -- with real 24-karat gold! :) Although the gold does not really taste like anything, at least you can say you ate real gold. After the initial excitement of eating something so precious, the oozing chocolate in the middle will surely satisfy any chocoholic craving you have. :)

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Overall, we loved the authentic flavors and the ingredients of the food, the sophisticated modern high-ceiling ambiance, and the Italian chef who makes sure each dish is crafted to Italian perfection. Order the appropriate wine to pair with your food, and limoncello as a digestive to complete the authentic Italian dining experience in Manila.

This is the Finest Taste of Italy that you can ever have in the metro! After dining in Finestra, you won't settle for anything less but the best Italian flavors.

Indeed, Finestra is a game changer in the Italian cuisine landscape in Manila. :)

FINESTRA. Italian cuisine
G/F Solaire Resort & Casino, 1 Solaire Boulevard, Entertainment City, Manila
Telephone: +632 888-8857 for reservations
Operating Hours:
Open Daily for LUNCH: 11.30am to 2.30pm (last seating)
Open Daily for DINNER: Bar 6.00pm | 6.30pm to 10.30 (last seating)

 

SOLAIRE RESORT: The Game is About to Change Series

 

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Full Disclosure: Our Finestra preview was courtesy of Solaire Resort Team.

 I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions. We only feature awesome experiences in the blog.

I have no business relationship with any company mentioned in this post or any organization promoting it. As a policy, I don't receive compensation from food and travel places we feature in the blog.

P.S. As of this writing, the pricing is still being finalized for Solaire's opening tomorrow. A similar meal in Italy would cost about 30-45 Euros, so expect to budget around P1,500 to 2,500 per person. If you have more info, please put it in the comments section.

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Yo' buff... Burrata is not buffalo. Buffala mozzarella is buffalo . Whereas burrata is mozzarella with cream or butter

Cheers

I must agree with you...I had the chance to taste the food of Yakumi, Finestra and Fresh and it was impressive (thanks Kat!)! Ingredients from Italy...fresh seafood from Tsukiji makret etc! I just hope that the service, quality and taste would be consistent.

We had dinner at Finestra last night, technically, it was their first paying dinner. Pay, we did.

Since we couldnt get through Solaire's reservations, we went straight at 5 past, from Manila Fame, hoping to get a seatand a drink before Sunset in the crowded resort. An amiable receptionist named Katrina took our reservation for 630pm (oh well, so much for Sunset cocktails) but she informed us that the tables beside the bay windows were reserved for groups of 4 to 5. Ok, so we walked around the took in the flora as we were just there for the food.

We returned at 615 and there were many curious checking the menu and such, coming and going. Katrina called us in and asked us to wait at the lovely bar area and offered us drinks or cocktails. The sunset was gone but a subtle ombre rested in the vista of the restaurant. A few minutes she led us to the central couch where she handed us over to our server, the perky and cheerful Tina (her name ID said Maria, oh well)

The restaurant was downright gorgeous! High ceilings, Carrara marble lording the great kitchen styled theatre, beautiful flowers and delicate crystals, hanging from the ceiling or the wine glasses and Acca Kappa in the restroom! Everything had a very promising and exciting feel, it felt like no money was no object. We were in for a fantastic treat, we quietly said to ourselves despite what a fabulous naysayer friend of ours had said earlier.

Afer perusing their somewhat very familiar menu, we started with their, handsome looking but unfortunately cold bread basket. With no butter to use a butter knife with, a portly waiter gave us "amouse bouche", which frankily consisted of virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar, some salt thingy (he never presented it, they just put it down) and some garlicky number (which we just figured out for ourselves). Didn't know that balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil was counted as "amouse bouche" already, we're used to "amouse bouch" being more like little samples of what the restaurant could offer.

The bread basket and their "amouse bouche" was an ominous start.

Following the number was a princely summed Porcini Mushroom soup. Slightly to the salty side,we couldnt figure out what broth they used or whether it was really salty. Felt perplexed and quizzical right after. It was alright but still quizzical.

Following our soup, the restaurant started to fill up with diners (even spotting a pretty classmate from High School with her husband) and groups all eager to sample the gorgeousness and brillance of the place (like us!) One of them was a reknowned (and chic) Filipino architect/interior designer, who moved with a genteel air, with the examination of the eyes moving inspecting. The staff sat the architect a distance in the middle couch, one table away from us. After a few quiet moments of dissatisfied discussion, the architect was transferred to a lovely corner table near the massive glass window (which we couldnt even go out and take in the sea breeze) We called Katrina, who earlier had been quite courteous, asking about the policy of groups of 4-5 near the window and they were clearly walk in (they were walking around the restaurant when we were perusing the menu and having our drinks), the now apologetic reception staff can only utter: "They insisted kasi po. Sorry"

Ominous indeed.

We had ordered the hulking Osso Bucco and the Wagyu Meatball pasta. There's nothing subtle about them, the Wagyu Meatballs were heavy while the pasta accompanying it, though quite al dente, they were also sizable (we would have preferred spaghetinni or another pasta that was not as big) The fist sized Osso Bucco was enjoyable enough and good to share, served on a handsome copper pan.

To cap our visit to Finestra, we decided to get our second Tiramisu for the day, which we had partaken a few hours earlier at Manila Fame. It was ok, we had preferred the tiramisu we ate earlier.

To sum everything,in our humble opinion, gorgeous interiors can't outweight, what we experienced was just "ok" food, coupled with detached service (exception though was our server Tina was cheery and friendly and Katrina was amiable, even their Filipino and Caucasian managers even greeted, visited or bade us farewell, so much for first paying day. Its not about being treated like royalty, but to have guests feel assured, confident and appreciated. The stupendous interiors cant make up for, average but princely priced fare (with amouse bouche). A tinge,we sadly didn't feel welcome to such a gorgeous place, but we just hope, for the sake of others, that since theyre in their birthpains, they can adjust and learn. To our limited appreciation, its either you've got to be rich, loaded, a VIP and a really famous architect to fully enjoy Finestra or just come with an open mind. Thats what we usually say to friends who have asked us about restaurants, places to go,etc.., maybe in time, others will have, thankfully, a different and a positive experience than ours.

Maybe, we were listening too much to Solaire's cheery ad for months that made us want to come here. Its subliminal programming since we wanted to experience Solaire as a dining destination and not a casino. But after our dinner, it felt like we lost at least 5K, just like some bloke still searching for their "win" in the guilded halls of Solaire.

But, guess Finestra is still in its infancy, will have to wait for it to grow up. Just like what we always said, go with an open mind.


My apologies for the errors (there are a number: "after", "not" etc,,, at my first response, was just moved to write about our experience last night, without editing awhile ago. Thanks

I had such high hopes for Finestra but was left extremely disappointed. It was quite busy on a mid week night. Lovely interiors and I liked the open kitchen. The sommelier was knowledgeable and the wine that was recommended was delicious. However the rest of our experience was somewhat lacking...
1) No amuse bouche offered
2) Although we asked for service water it was forgotten about and so we had to ask again. That meant we were sitting at our table without any refreshment for quite some time. Not a great start.
3) The bread was not warm but there was a nice selection
4) We requested olive oil and vinegar with our bread and they kept taking the bottle away. Looked like there was only one condiment bottle for the whole restaurant and they were policing it.
5) We had read about the starter with meats and cheeses and chutneys. When the mixed meat was recommended to us we asked if there was cheese etc and were told no. So we were literally served a plate of sliced meat. The anti pasti plate was not suggested and when we saw other tables with what we wanted we were told it was for lunch only!!! We had gone for dinner.
6) The aubergine starter was horrid - worse than shop bought. Pre made. Taken out the fridge with a slice of cheese put on and shown under the grill for two minutes. Not even hot or bubbling and juicy like it should be. I left mine as it was dry and cold.
7) We were often left sitting with empty wine glasses. In spite of the number of staff they did not appear attentive or reactive.
8) The pizza was not of good quality. The flavours were nice but it was thick and doughy.
9) We had advised staff we were sharing everything and they just plonked the pizza down in the middle uncut and and the pastas without serving implements
10) The clam pasta was awful. Cross between fusili and linguine. Impossible to eat. What could have been a plain vongole was dry chewy and scattered with ill thought out vegetables interspersed amongst the clams which were served without shells and tasted canned.
11) The risotto was ok - but maybe because it was the best against everything that was not so nice.
12) The staff asked a number of times if things were Ok but when we told them the aubergine was cold and we did not like the pasta, there was no follow up. Why ask then?
13) So glad we did nor order entrees or desserts. We paid quickly and left.

It was a real shame as I was so looking forward to a fantastic Italian. At the moment it is in soft opening stage but I would hesitate to trek all the way to the bay for an average tasting Italian that was not cheap just to sit under some fancy chandeliers. Va Bene at the Petron Station near Dasma is of far superior quality and I would return there time and time again.

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