The guy seated next to me is Todd Darling. We chitchatted about our favorite Hong Kong restaurants as he waited patiently for me to finish taking photos of every single dish before he dug in, serving me first.
But I am not here to talk about the well-mannered founder of Linguini Fini, or his dimple, or how his hair and perfect tan reminded me of Brad Pitt.
Me and Todd Darling
I am here to talk about our dinner at the Italian-American, farm-to-table, nose-to-tail restaurant that Todd has just brought to Manila from Hong Kong, in partnership with The Moment Group. Linguini Fini is not your usual pizza pasta place; it is all about fresh produce, local farmers, sustainability, and 100% homemade goodness.
Wall art by local street artist Deejay Pa-este
Manny Pacquiao, is that you?
Executive Chef Vinny Lauria. THE MAN.
Chef Vinny started us off with a selection of Artisan Salumi with roasted peppers and olives
Followed by Caprese, a tower of organic tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, fresh basil,
and drizzled with balsamico
I was still taking photos of the Crispy Pig’s Head Terrina when my other seatmate Meya
started gushing about it.
The shell was fried and crunchy with nary a hint of grease, and inside revealed tender, moist
and gelatinous chunks of cheeks, ears, snout, and other fatty tissues that I could not identify,
but enjoyed very much with the “buro” aioli (how brilliant!) and giardiniera.
It was one appetizer I would risk clogging my veins for.
Next came not just one, but three pasta dishes to showcase what Linguini Fini is most famous for.
There was Candied Squid-infused Linguini Fini in Spicy Seafood Ragu with minced octopus,
squid, lobster, shrimp, green chili, and buttered tomato. It was simple in taste
and less stellar than...
The tongue-tingling Spaghetti with Fresh Crab Meat tossed in mint, dayap, and…
wait for it… CRAB FAT!!!
My favorite of the night was the signature Pappardelle “Nose to Tail” Bolo, which is also
the best papperdelle I’ve had this year. The wide ribbons were fresh and bouncy,
and the meaty pork testa, veal, and oxtail ragu incredibly flavorful. With a light sprinkling
of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, this pasta dish was so addicting I believe it should
come with a warning label.
Not that I did not already have enough carbs, but I could not resist a second serving
of the Longganisa and Scamorza Pizza. Each slice was arrestingly delicious
with just the right amount of heat from the chili leaves and aromatic garlic oil.
The flavors were bold and beautiful and excited every cell in my gustatory system.
My friend Leslie was obsessed about the Porchetta. I knew because she could not stop feeding
on the slow roasted fennel-rubbed pork belly even after announcing to the table that she
was stuffed. Lol. I liked it, too, and totally ignored the plate of local organic vegetables
so I could eat more of the uber tasty meat.
Our dinner ended with a simple blueberry cheesecake with almond pie crumble
and a shot of homemade limoncello.
If the people in the room listened closely that night, they would have surely heard the sound of my stomach expanding.
But every inch I gained after gorging on the pappardelle, crab fat pasta, and longganisa pizza was worth it.
It scares me how eager I am to do it again.
I am a pig!!!
Congratulations, Todd Darling of Homegrown Foods, and Eliza Antonino, Jon Syjuco,
and Abba Napa of The Moment Group!
Linguini Fini is located at Level 3, SM Mega Fashion Hall, Edsa corner Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas, Mandaluyong
Tel: +632 531 3302