I’ve long heard of Finestra, an Italian fine dining restaurant inside Solaire Resort and Casino, but it was never on my list of restaurants to try because Italian restaurants are ubiquitous in Manila, and I don’t see why I have to shell out a little more cash for cuisine that is normally affordable.
However, a very special occasion was celebrated not too long ago. Watching a musical at the Theater at Solaire together with a reservation at this restaurant became part of the plan.
Upon entering the restaurant just minutes before sunset, I instantly noticed how grand the place is. Massive chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling windows, and walls accented with gold. Coupled with live entertainment, I knew it would be a night to remember.
I started with their Signature Negroni (Php435). Considered as one of the most popular Italian cocktails, this usually consists of one part gin, one part vermouth (fortified white wine), and one part campari (alcoholic bitter). Finestra’s version is made more special as it is topped with beer foam and served in a brass cup.
While waiting for our orders, we enjoyed a spectacular view of the Manila Bay sunset. I don’t remember the last time I witnessed a full sunset view while being comfortably seated in an airconditioned room. I savored every moment of that romantic scene while it lasted.
A humongous complimentary basket of bread was then placed on our table. There were five different kinds with two pieces each. Typical to Italian restaurants, the bread came with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. The balsamic vinegar was one of the night’s highlights. They use the brand Acetai Bellei of Modena, Italy, which has been producing this high quality product since the 19th century. With its sweet and thick creamy texture, the gold label balsamic vinegar is aged for at least 12 years. It was so extraordinary that I asked for a second serving of the dip and finished almost half of what was inside the basket!
Finestra Caesar (Php780) was served next. Their version is made from Spanish anchovies, pancetta (Italian bacon), aged Parmesan cheese, and grilled Focaccia croutons. This doesn’t look like the typical Caesar Salad at all and is very rustic with big uneven cuts of each ingredients. One of the best tasting versions I’ve tried!
We also ordered their Primavera Pizzette (Php980). Pizzette is supposed to be a small pizza, but this is far from that. A serving of this has six big heavyweight slices with loads of Prosciutto ham, wild rocket greens, parmesan shavings, parmesan oil, and mozzarella cheese. I like the crust so much. It has the right thickness, the dough is chewy, and is baked perfectly
Capesante E Pancetta (Php1,180) has three pieces of Seared Hokkaido scallops, crispy pancetta, and morcilla sausage (blood sausage). Overall, this dish is good, but could be better (the scallops were a bit overcooked).
Agnolotti Tartufo Carbonara (Php1,380) is made from handmade pasta parcels, carbonara stuffing, crispy bacon, diced zucchini, and black truffle shaving. Five big dumplings oozing out with carbonara sauce, the filling has a lumpy, super cheesy and creamy texture. This will definitely take you to a whole new level of pasta enjoyment.
Another dish is the Risotto Porcini (Php1,180) made from Carnaroli rice, porcini mushrooms, and pan-seared Rougie foie gras. Carnaroli is basically medium grained rice grown in the provinces of Northern Italy and is considered the king of rice. Rougie, on the other hand, is a brand of high quality foie gras (duck liver) which started in France in 1875 and is widely preferred by American chefs. This dish is rich, bursting with umami from the mushrooms, and the foie gras is so delicate with a buttery, melt-in-your mouth texture. This is a must-order if you want to level up your dining experience.
To cap off the night, we were served complimentary Petit Fours. Thank God we didn’t order any dessert! The way they serve the small bite sized confectioneries is totally amusing. Instead of bringing a plate of these to our table, they showed us a big wooden box first that looked like a jewelry box with lots of drawers. They opened all of the compartments and we were asked to choose three kinds per person. The experience was so delightful because I felt like a kid buying from a candy store. We picked a combination of fruit and chocolate-based tarts and truffles.
Finestra exceeded all of my expectations! The service of their friendly and attentive staff is on point. I didn’t even have to ask for a water refill because they would realize it before I did. The food prices may be a little expensive, but knowing they use top quality ingredients and offer big servings, not to mention a great ambiance; this restaurant gives real value for money.
Aseana Avenue, Entertainment City Tambo, Paranaque