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An Italian Sunday brunch experience ‘like no other’

Solaire’s Finestra pulls out all the stops with a fresh gastronomic treat

The centerpiece of Finestra’s Italian Sunday Brunch is the Seafood Tower filled to the brim with fresh bounty from the sea.

The USDA rib-eye steak, from the crackling flames on a Josper grill, is served tender, smokey.

“We wanted to surprise people and treat them in a way that was unequaled anywhere else in Manila,” Solaire’s Chef Alan Marchetti told me when I had the pleasant opportunity to try out Finestra’s Italian Sunday Brunch at Solaire.

And he was right. From the moment you step inside Solaire’s Finestra, you can already feel that you’re in for a unique brunch experience—especially if this would be a first for you after months in lockdown (like me).

Jazzy tunes and an occasional K-pop (like BTS ‘Butter) welcome guests to Finestra.

You’ll be greeted by a bright and cozy ambience, a place well lit by natural light, a picturesque view of Manila Bay through the restaurant’s window walls, and the pleasant sound of live musicians performing jazzy Italian tunes—and occasionally, renditions of K-pop. The refreshing sights and sounds will serve as preview of what’s to come: a fresh, luxurious, abundant, decadent, yet classic gastronomic experience, as described by Chef Alan.

Whipping up the Sunday Brunch menu, Solaire’s Italian chef Alan Marchetti and his team want guests to enjoy dishes not comparable anywhere else in the metro.

As he recommended, I started off with the centerpiece of Finestra’s Italian Sunday brunch menu, the seafood tower served iced or hot. The iced version, which I ordered, features exceptionally fresh shucked oysters, poached prawns, crab and crab salad, mussels, as well as different dips and sauces, like your classic cocktail sauce, horseradish whip, raspberry mignonette, and lemon and lime. It actually took me a while to dig in because I was in awe of the presentation and how huge the mussels and oysters were—I’ve never seen bigger ones in restaurants here in the metro. Once I did, though, my tastebuds were transported seaside—that was how fresh the seafood was.

Brick-oven pizza is among the specials.

I then tried their Italian brunch specials, like the brick oven pizzas and homemade pastas, all of which led me to an Italian food coma—minus the umay factor. See, Finestra’s all-you-can eat brunch excels in that the selections aren’t overwhelming, which allows for quality to shine, and even elevates some dishes that may be mundane to some. The fried squid, for example, was a personal favorite because it is seasoned and cooked to perfection, plus it’s really crispy and “snackable”.

The fillet mignon comes with green beans and potatoes fried in duck fat. I’ve never bitten into a steak as soft and as tasty

The care in preparing each item on the menu becomes apparent when you try the steak. After a toss-up between the filet mignon and the rib-eye (of course, you can get both, but by this time, I had overindulged in the fried squid—it was just that good), I decided to go with the former, which comes with green beans and potatoes fried in duck fat. I’ve never bitten into a steak as soft and as tasty. It was as smooth as BTS’ Butter, which, coincidentally, the live musicians were jamming to as I was savoring each bite.

For those who prefer to maintain an ocean-inspired dining motif, there’s also the tender baked Norwegian salmon, Pacific seabass fillets, or lobsters filled with the sea’s delightful flavors.

Good range of red and white wine from Italy and Europe

Of course, what’s an Italian brunch without wine and bubbly? I paired everything I ate with a range of reds and whites not just from Italy, but also from other European regions, as well. There are

also spirits and liquor if you prefer a lighter or stronger drink, crisp house champagne, as well as local and European beers. Finestra has also come up with its own artistic cocktails like the Finestra Negroni, a bittersweet yet refreshing swig that’s an ode to its classic origins; the Pigafetta, named after the Italian explorer, made from limoncello with a blend of sweetness and bitters; and the Giramondo, which translates to “globetrotter” in English, and is exactly like its named—a concoction filled with a myriad of cosmopolitan taste notes.

A highlight is the affogato station, where chefs concoct the Italian ice cream with liquid nitrogen

The popular Finestra tiramisu (bottom most), creamy chocolate zuccotto cake (bottom right), velvety mango and passionfruit semi freddo (bottom left), vanilla pana cotta (left), mixed berries Zabaglione (center), and lemon meringue cheesecake (upper left) all served family style.

You can have your affogato with coffee, alcohol, or just as it is with homemade biscotti or other decadent toppers.

I was afraid that I didn’t save enough room for dessert, but upon seeing the affogato station, where one of the restaurant’s many talented chefs was concocting the Italian ice cream with liquid nitrogen, I just couldn’t resist. I had mine made with alcohol and a handful of toppers. There’s also the popular Finestra tiramisu, creamy chocolate zuccotto cake, and velvety mango and passionfruit semifreddo, all served family style.

Just when you thought the sweet sensations are done, a candy trolley filled with more Italian sweets and chocolates comes for you to pick some and bring home.

And just when I thought the sweet sensations were done, a candy trolley filled with other Italian sweets and chocolates made its rounds for all the diners to pick from to take home. It was definitely a luxurious and abundant Sunday brunch experience like no other. Chef Alan and Solaire, I wouldn’t mind you saying, “I told you so.”

Video submitted to TheDiarist.ph by EJ Bonagua

Take pleasure in the refinement of extraordinary Sundays at Finestra. Finestra Italian Sunday Brunch is from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. Price is at P4,999+ per person (subject to 10 percent service charge). For inquires and reservations, please call tel. no. 8888-8888 or email [email protected].

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