Dubai’s first female-led restaurant, Fi’lia is fast becoming the talk of the town.
It’s tough being the new kid on the block in Dubai, especially when you are up against hundreds of restaurants that already populate the city. You’ve got to be quick out of the gate (as they say), and make a good impression as soon as you open your doors, otherwise the oversaturated restaurant scene will eat you up and spit you out again.
Fi’lia opened nearly a month ago and we were interested to see how this new Italian restaurant could stand out amongst its competitors. Arriving for lunch on a Saturday, we were impressed to see the news of Fi’lia had spread fast, with many happy diners sat around us, enjoying a variety of Italian favourites. The fourth Fi’lia to open globally, the new hotspot is located on the 70th floor of SLS Dubai with panoramic views over Dubai’s impressive skyline, the Burj Khalifa. It features an outdoor terrace perfect for al fresco dining (even in this hot and humid May weather).
When it comes to look and feel, the contemporary-meets-casual decor features rattan furniture and copper hardware to create a welcoming space. Inside, you can opt to lounge and dine by the pizza bar, which is the centrepiece of Fi’lia with its impressive copper ovens, while the live cooking station adds a contemporary touch. The terrace is the highlight for us though – with gorgeous hanging lights, lots of beautiful touchpoints and a welcome breeze. The outdoor space was stunning during the day, but we can imagine it is spectacular at night!
The restaurant is helmed by Chef Sara Aqel and her team of talented women. From the restaurant management to service, the female-led team brings the authenticity of Fi’lia to life and couldn’t be more warming if they tried. Sara met us with a wave on arrival and personally did many rounds of the restaurant during lunchtime, serving food to happy customers where she could and meeting as many people as possible – her warmth and friendly persona added to the wonderful atmosphere Fi’lia exudes.
Food is at the centre of Fi’lia and the team do not disappoint. The menu is split into three sections – nonna (grandmother), mamma (mother) and filia (daughter) – and features recipes passed down through generations, adding a modern twist to traditional and much-loved Italian-Mediterranean dishes prepared with the freshest ingredients.
Nonna’s creations include well-known favourites such as Ravioli quattro formaggi and the lasagna, which was named after her. Mamma’s dishes serve up contemporary creations such as the Burratina, the Cozze e vongole (mussels and clams) and the Beef Tenderloin, cooked to perfection. Fi’lia adds modern touches to the Italian-Mediterranean meals, from beef tartare dressed with egg yolk jam and pecans to Seabass served with a crunchy feta and herb crust. Naturally, pizza is a must-try at this stylish eatery – baked fresh with handmade dough and garnished with the finest ingredients from Italy. However, our favourites were the spaghetti vongole and the seabass – two simple yet spectacular dishes. The desserts were another highlight – the pavlova was so light and tasty, filled with coconut and passion fruit cream, mango gelato and coconut meringue. However, the cream cheese Panna cotta had me reeling with marinated strawberry, coconut crumble and topped with strawberry gelato – perfection!
Fi’lia is a welcomed addition to the Dubai dining scene and we are already excited about going back. This is definitely one to add to the bucket list.