Last month, Fi’lia opened its doors at SLS Brickell and joined the ever-changing, ever-growing food scene in Brickell. Although Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen in Miami, Fi’lia is proving itself to be a cut above the rest — and then some.
That should come as no surprise considering the name behind the concept. If you’ve ever visited one of Chef Michael Schwartz’s restaurants, you know what you’re getting yourself into: exceptional food in an unpretentious setting. And that’s exactly what you can expect at Fi’lia.
During our visit, we encountered a rare problem: We couldn’t figure out what to order because everything sounded delicious. At most places, we have a clear idea of what we want; we do our research beforehand and are able to narrow it down by the time we arrive. That wasn’t the case with Fi’lia. Here’s a sample of our conversation about the menu that night:
“This looks good.”
“This looks good, too.”
“What about this? It looks really good.”
“I really want this, though. It looks sooooo good.”
“Right?! But this over here looks just as good.”
That discussion continued throughout the evening with different adjectives. Thankfully, the eager staff served up some stellar suggestions. For example: The Tell Me cocktail (Casamigo Reposado, Campari and Dimmi). It made us wonder why more Italian restaurants don’t incorporate tequila in their bar selections; kudos to Fi’lia for such a creative and refreshing drink.
Whether you’re visiting Fi’lia with family, friends or a hot date, always start with the Tableside Caesar. Watching the meticulous preparation is quite the show, but that’s only part of the draw. The salad itself is simple — anchovies, garlic croutons and Parmiagiano — but you won’t be able to stop eating it once you take that first bite.
Two other things you won’t be able to stop eating are the Beef Carpaccio (sunchoke, green onion, pecorino, mustard vinaigrette) and Snapper Tartare (celery, radish, smoked trout roe, parsley sauce, Yukon gold chips). That mustard vinaigrette from the beef carpaccio needs to be bottled up and sold — we would gladly put it on everything; on the carpaccio, it’s heavenly.
When we first tried the snapper tartare, we weren’t sure what to think. But as we kept eating it, it quickly became a favorite; nothing was left on the plate. We talked to some of our peers, and some of them had the same reaction as us — “it’s a slow burn” or “it grows on you” — while others loved it from the get-go. Regardless, everyone felt the same by the end of the dish: happy and satisfied. If you want to go really big with starters, the Giant Prawn is full of tasty meat for the taking.
Fi’lia touts its wood-fired grill, and it certainly lives up to the hype. The wood-grilled lamb is a perfect dish: generously portioned, packed with flavor and just right; the apples, sunchokes and hazelnuts felt like essentials rather than afterthoughts on the plate. We wouldn’t change a thing.
For pasta lovers, there’s a wealth of options including a Bucatini (bottarga, garlic, chile flake, breadcrumbs) with a nice kick to it. We kept things relatively light for dessert with a blueberry crostada that looked good and tasted even better; the olive oil gelato made us feel a little less guilty about all the calories we just consumed.
Chef Schwartz wants to bring honest Italian food to Brickell, and he’s done it successfully with Fi’lia. In a city where there’s an Italian place on every corner, this concept easily stands above the rest with a diverse, approachable menu and decor that’s to die for. Fi’lia is one of those places you should always keep in mind when you want a great meal — no matter the occasion.