Sunday, August 27, 2017

#MeatMeAtFinestra: An Italian Spin on the Classic Steakhouse Vibe at Finestra

Fresh lemons from the Amalfi coast, plump tomatoes from San Marzano sul Sarno, USDA Omaha Angus Beef from Nebraska, Snake River Farms Wagyu Beef from Idaho, and Blackmore Wagyu Beef from Australia, Solaire Resorts & Casino's elegant Finestra adds a uniquely Italian spin to its classic steakhouse vibe...

It's a steakhouse with that distinct Italian flair. One of Solaire Resorts & Casino's premier dining establishments, Finestra Italian Steakhouse elevates the steakhouse experience to a whole new and elegant level infused with an Italian touch. Premium steaks and classic Italian dishes, that sounds good to me...

Fist impressions always count, and entering Finestra Italian Steakhouse does exactly that. The impressive open kitchen design with its large ovens and Josper charcoal grill is where all the magic happens under the helm of Chef de Cuisine Allan Marchetti. An open kitchen always adds another layer to the dining experience, and watching the chefs perform transforms the kitchen into a stage.

Inside the elegant interiors of Finestra, one can't help but notice the walls lined with ornate Murano glass from Italy. The chandeliers are also from Murano, adding that graceful Italian style. The warm smiles of the friendly staff is the first link in a chain of continuous experiences that makes dining at Finestra so special.  

The restaurant's name comes from the Italian word for "window," and the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows offer diners a breathtaking view of the bay. The open kitchen also provides diners a glimpse of Chef Allan Marchetti and his team at work, creating culinary masterpieces for the dinner service.

Like a true Italian, Chef Allan Marchetti's passion for authentic flavors is reflected in Finestra's wide range of dishes, from antipasti to main courses and desserts. A native of Rome, Chef Allan Marchetti brings a taste of home with some of his signature dishes inspired by his grandmother's cherished family recipes.

And just like any high-end steakhouse, Finestra Italian Steakhouse also offers a variety of fresh seafood, from Alaskan crabs, Fine de Claire and Gillardeau oysters from France, Pacific oysters from Japan to the day's freshest catch of tiger prawns.

At the open kitchen, the chefs prepared our lavish antipasti courses for the evening, plating each dish with a delicate precision. As the dishes were served, Finestra's staff explained each dish, from the ingredients to the cooking methods, providing insights to an Italian-inspired feast.

And what a spread. Finestra's Italian style comes through with a wide range of tasty starters...

The Finestra Caesar (P 680) with Spanish marinated anchovies, crispy pancetta, aged parmesan, and thinly sliced grilled focaccia croutons kicks off your dining experience at Finestra Italian Steakhouse. The fresh and crisp greens make an audible snap with each bite, delivering a subtle sweetness followed by the richness of the Caesar's dressing. The crunchy pancetta and marinated anchovies add contrasting layers of flavors, rounded out by the slow-cooked egg. The Romaine lettuce is evenly coated with the dressing, kicked up by the sharp notes of the aged parmesan. Finestra also offers other salads, including the Rocket Salad (P 580), Finestra Garden Leaves Salad (P 500), and the Giant Burrata (P 1,700) with heirloom tomatoes, Modena 25-year barrel-aged balsamic and fresh herbs. The textural contrasts and distinct flavors of each ingredient come together in a seamless and perfectly balanced blend, and my dining experience at Finestra Italian Steakhouse is off to a great start.

The Frito Misto (P 600) with deep-fried crunchy king prawns, calamari, and zucchini served with a thick and tart tomato dip offers the mildly sweet briny notes of seafood along with a delectable crispness, capped by the flavorful marinara sauce. The fried zucchini offers contrasting notes and textures to the dish for a variety of flavors in one dish.

The Crab Cake (P 900), thick and succulent Alaskan crab meat with a lightly crisp outer layer with Amalfi lemon emulsion and served with Italian slaw is another must-try starter at Finestra Italian Steakhouse. The thick and juicy patty is loaded with soft and succulent crab meat contrasting with the crunchy breading. A squeeze of lemon and the Italian Slaw provide sharp notes adding even more flavors with each bite.

Chef Allan Marchetti served another seafood dish, the Octopus Carpaccio (P 680), with tender, melt-in-your-mouth, thinly sliced octopus topped with cherry tomatoes, olives, spring onions, basil, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil, and Amalfi lemon zest. The sheer simplicity of the dish with the freshest ingredients makes this special, with pure, fresh, and clean flavors. The paper-thin slices of octopus just melts in your mouth releasing its delicate briny sweetness followed by the nutty notes of the Ligurian extra virgin olive oil and kicked up by the vibrant flavors of the cherry tomatoes, olives and spring onions. One bite delivers layer after rich layer of distinct flavors coming together in a masterfully executed dish. This one's a personal favorite. 

The Pizza Primavera (P 680) with creamy mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, wild rocket, Parmesan shavings, and truffle oil on a rustic crust adds another taste of Italy at the table. The crisp and rustic crust is the perfect base for the classic toppings of mozzarella, prosciutto, parmesan, truffle oil and the bitter hints of the wild rocket. Bold, upfront and fresh flavors,  chef Allan Marchetti recreates the classic flavors of the old country served in an elegant setting.

But it's the steaks that are slowly redefining Finestra with its wide selection of premium beef, including the USDA Angus Omaha Beef Tomahawk (P 7,300-1500g) and the Meat Sampler (P 6,800-300g) with USDA Angus Omaha Beef Tenderloin, Snake River Wagyu Beef Top Blade, and Australian Blackmore Wagyu Beef Ribeye.

That evening, we sampled Finestra's signature Snake River Wagyu Beef Top Blade (P 3,900-300g) with its trademark buttery texture, intense marbling and a beefy savory richness that lines your palate with its intense beefy flavors, lingering long after the first bite.

Perfectly grilled to medium with a juicy pink center, there's just nothing quite like a slab of sliced premium beef on a stone slate. It really doesn't get any better than this. Simply add a pinch of rock salt, and the savory notes come through in a beefy punch. And salt is all you'll really need for beef this good. Tender and juicy, the top blade has that subtle bite feel to remind you this is real beef. This is definitely one the reasons to visit Finestra Italian Steakhouse.

Our steaks were paired with Finestra's sides, including the Josper-grilled Asparagus (P 200) with lemon zest and Ligurian extra virgin olive oil, the Duck-Fat Fried Potato Chips (P 200) with sea salt and thyme, and the Cauliflower Puttanesca (P 200). Other sides include Truffle Mashed Potatoes (P 200), Mac n' Cheese (P 200), Spaghetti Pomodoro (P 280) with fresh basil and parmesan, Grilled Vegetables (P 200) with pesto and pine nuts, and Baked Cannellini Beans (P 200) with roasted peppers and homegrown herbs.

Finestra offers a variety of sauces for the premium steaks, from Mushroom Cream Sauce to Whipped Truffle Butter, Bearnaise and Whipped Foie Gras Butter. Finestra also offers a selection of mustard and horseradish (L) to pair with the beef, and if you prefer freshly grated horseradish (R), Finestra's got that covered too.  

The rustic flavors of Italy are highlighted once more with Chef Allan Marchetti's next dish, a traditional "hunter-style" dish with chicken, onions, herbs, and tomatoes. The Organic Spring Chicken Cacciatore (P 2,100-500g), tender and juicy chicken prepared sous-vide with San Marzano tomatoes, Tagiasca olives, sage, thyme, and roasting jus, offers rich and hearty flavors. The traditional dish includes commonly "foraged" items from the forest with wild game and herbs. Unlike the usual steakhouses in the metro, the inclusion of traditional Italian dishes adds another flavorful dimension to your dining experience at Finestra...

...and Chef Allan Marchetti continues to impress with another classic Italian dish. The Agnolotti Tartufo Carbonara (P 1,080) with soft and chewy handmade pasta parcels stuffed with a rich carbonara filling, crispy bacon, diced zucchini, and black truffle, added even more authentic Italian flavors to our feast at Finestra Italian Steakhouse. A gentle slice of the pasta releases the thick and creamy carbonara sauce blending with the earthy hints of mushrooms.

As we enjoyed the savory mains, Chef de Cuisine Allan Marchetti shared another new dish from Finestra's menu, a delicate seafood dish cooked en papillote or as the Italians would say, al cartoccio, a traditional culinary technique of wrapping and cooking the main ingredient in paper. 

The Chilean Sea Bass al Cartoccio, with the butter-like texture of the sea bass served with Cannellini beans and pesto sauce is an ideal light and healthy main course option at Finestra. The delicate texture and notes of the Chilean sea bass are perfectly retained by wrapping and cooking it in a paper pouch, gently cooked by the steam and its own juices. The nutty notes of pesto and the soft beans complete the dish. Finestra Italian Steakhouse just shows how great steaks and rustic Italian flavors can pair well together.

For dessert, Chef Allan Marchetti served up an indulgent trifecta of Finestra's desserts, including the new Lemon Dome with lemon cremeaux, almond sponge, and limoncello sorbet, an elegantly plated dessert that feeds the eye before the palate. Each component in this elaborate dessert offers unique flavors that stand on its own, and together, combine for an indulgent finish with that elegant Finestra touch.

The Warm Chocolate Cake (P 360) is another elegant dessert with a chocolate dome filled with banoffee cake and chocolate ice cream...

...completed at your table with the pouring of hot chocolate syrup slowly melting the dome to reveal the indulgent filling of cake and ice cream. The dessert is impressive from the moment it is served on the table, made even more special as Chef Allan Marchetti adds the finishing touches...

The rich notes of chocolate make this dessert creation a chocoholic's top choice, completed by the sweetness of bananas and the smooth and velvety texture of ice cream.

In between indulgent bites of Finestra's sinful desserts, we were served Finestra's very own Limoncello prepared in-house with Amalfi lemons. Chef Allan Marchetti prepares and steeps fresh batches of Amalfi lemon peels in a neutral spirit base. A chilled Limoncello is the perfect after-dinner digestif at Finestra.

Drawing inspiration from his grandma's cherished family recipes, Chef Allan Marchetti recreates a taste of home with the Finestra Tiramisu (P 300 Single/P 550 Sharing), a classic Italian dessert with creamy mascarpone, marsala, lady fingers and coffee. From the creamy mascarpone to the dark chocolate shards and bold notes of espresso, the Finestra Tiramisu ends your steak dinner with a classic Italian touch. Premium steaks and Italian dishes, it all works well at the elegant Finestra Italian Steakhouse. Definitely one of a kind, and you can find it here at Solaire Resort & Casino...

Finestra is located at Solaire Resort & Casino, Aseana Avenue, Entertainment City, Paranaque City or call 632 888-8888 for reservations and inquiries.

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