Review: Fi'lia, a female-led Italian restaurant with panoramic Dubai views
If you visit one restaurant this month, make it this one…
Pipped as the first fully female-led Italian Mediterranean restaurant in Dubai, Fi’lia stands out in more ways than one. Twenty-five year old executive chef Chef de Cuisine Sara Aqel has put her creative stamp on the vibrant spot to fuse tradition and modern on the 70th floor of the newly-opened SLS Dubai.
Trained under world-famous chef, Massimo Bottura, guests are treated to Michelin-worthy cooking, without the fuss normally associated with such standard of dining. The menu is divided between Nonna (grandma), Mamma (mother) and Fi’lia (daughter) so signify how classic or current the dishes are.
On a Friday evening at the sky-high restaurant, we’re met with a buzzing atmosphere both inside and out, as the venue is filled to capacity. We’re lucky to be sat on the terrace next to the glass wall overlooking a sparkling Burj Khalifa.
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Storming ahead with starters we’re intrigued by the watermelon carpaccio (Dhs50) and couldn’t believe how much we enjoyed it. The preparation is intense, involving roasting and marinating to create this firm jelly texture and delicately floral taste topped with crunchy beetroot crisps.
The sea bass carpaccio (Dhs65) is also delightful, bathing in a refreshing yuzu marinade and thin strips of fresh apple to balance the acidity. From the pizzeria menu we opt for the burrata and bresaola (Dhs70), and the dough is beautifully light and topped with a generous creamy cheese.
Having studied under the maestro himself, we’re eager to try Sara’s cacio e pepe (Dhs85), a simple yet elite dish that Massimo Bottura is known for. Fi’lia’s version has a twist: two types of cheese and both black and pink peppercorns – it’s divine.
Service is swift and seamless, with all dishes arriving less than 10 minutes after we order. Staff are more than happy to get into light-hearted conversation, or offer a knowledgable suggestion from the menu.
Another stand out dish comes at the end of the night, recommended from the kitchen and with good reason. Simply called pavlova (Dhs40), we’re presented with a coconut-dipped paper-thin meringue bowl housing creamy mango gelato and refreshing passionfruit and coconut cream. One of those creations that tastes as good as it looks.
Filed under ‘hot new restaurants you simply must try’, Fi’lia ticks all the boxes. It has the views, impeccable service, value for money and excellent food.
Fi’lia, 70th floor, SLS Dubai, Business Bay, lunch: 12.30pm to 3.30pm, dinner: 6.30pm to midnight. Tel: (0)4 607 0770. @filiadubai