Restaurant review | Filini
The restaurant in the Aqua aims high and falls hard.
There is someone out there who thinksis a gorgeous restaurant. Someone who picked out, at minimum, five types of light fixtures, who embraced textured ceiling tiles, who believes a surface is not a surface unless it reflects another surface. I admit I secretly love this person—this totally pizzazzed, over-the-top sparkle-hound of a designer. But I absolutely do not love the experience of being in this person’s outlandishly glittery wonderland, Filini, in the new Radisson Blu hotel.
And, unfortunately, the room is the least of the reasons. Because tacky restaurants I can handle. But lamb loin cloaked in salt? I can’t. Neither do I really know what to make of a bland filet of halibut, of chewy bomboloni, of one-note “cocao-scented” pappardelle or especially of the seared ahi tuna, spastically plated with pomegranate seeds and butternut-squash puree. From the beginning of a meal here, when the waiter sets down a bread basket, shards of Grana Padano cheese and a couple of olives (or a “crap-ton of stuff,” as my otherwise very knowledgeable waiter one day dubbed the setup) on through the promise of making its own pizzas and pastas, Filini is a basket case of outsized ambitions. The crap-ton thing is generous, but if the restaurant just had made one bread, and made it well, it would have been enough.
So what are you to do if you’re staying at the Radisson Blu, living at the Aqua or otherwise inclined to eat at Filini? You could order the polipo, a salad of nicely cooked, tender grilled octopus brightened with fresh mint and punctuated with two types of chickpeas. You could have the somewhat random but perfectly good bowl of tomato soup. You could go with a plate of sweet but inoffensive butternut squash cappellacci: Like the pappardelle, the pasta itself isn’t of especially notable quality, but the classic flavor combination is a more coherent effort. And you could definitely do worse than to just have some decent burrata and a glass of wine from the fairly priced list. (When has that ever been a bad idea?) But the problem is that in this city, it’s easy to do so much better.