The who: Prolific chef and restaurateur Michael Schwartz partners with hospitality group sbe to open, Fi’lia, an Italian concept at the SLS Brickell. The restaurant is said to be an homage to his first gig in the business — as a 15 year-old dishwasher at a neighborhood Italian joint. Chef de Cuisine Tim Piazza comes to Fi’lia from his post as sous chef at Michael’s Genuine.
The space: A modern space designed by Philippe Starck decked out in teak wood tables, retro-looking chairs and hanging citrus plants: the feeling is similar to that of dining at the home of a good friend with great taste.
The dishes: American-Italian classics and Schwartz’s take on Italian cuisine. Dishes from the wood-burning oven, pastas, pizzas and hearty mains round out a tightly crafted menu. Prices are reasonable, and portion sizes aim to please with starters $8-$18 and mains $23-$34.
Crusty bread made in house and an olive oil dip made with oregano clipped from small pots on the table start things off. Then it’s on to snacks of homemade brandade salt cod topped with pickled Meyer lemon or the charred eggplant spread on freshly grilled bread with grated bottarga, a salted, cured fish roe.
A not-to-miss experience is the tableside Caesar salad, made with croutons griddled tableside and the dressing mixed fresh with anchovies, garlic and dijon mustard. Six homemade pastas include a classic cacio e pepe, a short rib-filled crespelle and the buccatini with shaved bottarga and bread crumbs.
There are five pizzas available which vary from the leek and pancetta to the pistachio pesto and ricotta to the wild mushroom and arugula. Hefty mains include a wood-grilled leg of lamb, wood-grilled swordfish and wood-grilled hanger steak.
A chocolate budino headlines the dessert menu which also features a pine nut tart and homemade gelati and sorbeti in flavors of rosemary, olive oil and Meyer lemon.
Bottom line: Michael Schwartz gets back to his Italian roots with this modern-yet-cozy spot specializing in sophisticated Italian classics.