Near+Far Fi’lia rating: 8/10
Why book Fi’lia
Fi’lia caused much excitement when it first opened in 2021 – positioning itself as the first fully female-led restaurant in Dubai. It made sense: the word Fi’lia, after all, means daughter, and the restaurant’s menu is inspired by three generations of women – fi’ila, mamma and nonna – with contemporary and classic dishes to match. Three years on, and Fi’lia is going strong, now with a more diverse team, but still cherishing the theme of female empowerment. Today, Fi’lia is one of Dubai’s favourite Italian restaurants. It’s famous for its pizzas – pillowy, Neapolitan style with perfect leopard crusts – but more importantly, its stunning panoramic views across the city, either from its 70th-floor dining room or its sweeping terrace – perfectly positioned in front of the Burj Khalifa. While part of SLS Dubai hotel, Fi’lia Dubai is a dining destination, and guests come for its laid-back, elevated atmosphere and more affordable prices than the city’s other panoramic hot posts. Fi’lia is a great date night destination, or perfect for wowing visiting friends and family (without too much damage to their wallets).
Fi’lia’s feel is casual, warm and cosy, yet elegant. The beating heart of the dining room is the open pizza preparation station, with towering copper pizza ovens and roaring flames, and floor-to-ceiling windows frame the elongated space. There’s an elegant yet casual and everyday feel to the place.- making it perfect for lunch or dinner. The showstopper, however, is the terrace and, worth braving even in the wind (the price to pay for staggering views) for views over Downtown Dubai, Business Bay and out to Meydan (and even further in the daytime). The terrace itself is spacious, bright and dotted with both potted and hanging greenery, plus boho rattan lights.
Relaxed yet also stylish and elegant, Fi’lia appeals to all groups, and visiting on a Friday night, we find group celebrations, intimate date nights and catch up with friends. This reviewer chooses the terrace as the perfect place to wow a visiting father – a coveted spot that’s buzzing and convivial. Make sure to reserve a spot here, and while it does get blustery, blankets are dolled out by staff, and there are heaters dotted around. The inside dining room was more peaceful and cosy, picking up around 9:30/10pm as elegant locals piled in to order dishes like truffle pizza.
Fi’lia’s menu is split into three sections – Fi’lia Mamma and Nonna (grandmother), each showcasing different signature Italian dishes, from contemporary daughter to more classic Nonna, and mamma being somewhere in the middle. Its pizzas are its most famous dish, made from 72-hour fermented sourdough and cooked in wood-fired ovens, perfect for sharing (excellent as a starter). The menu is all-encompassing, sharing bits through to hearty mains, the classics, of course, pizza, pasta, but also meats, veggie dishes and seafood. Meals begin with a generous bread basket of focaccia, Sardinian crisp bread and others, served with fresh oil and balsamic – a pleasing touch – and it’s essential to save some for some of the delightful started, like oven-baked ricotta with figs and honey (AED78) along with classic antipasti. Take each menu chapter as a course and share, and the following pizza (order the Tartufo – AED125), enjoy a choice of seven pasta dishes, from carbonara to delicate stuffed Cappelletti (AED98). For dessert, there’s the Fi’ila tiramisu, which, despite being alcohol-free, managed to capture the depth often missing with this classic dessert across the city. Of course, the real star is a side of views – and it’s easy to while away the time nibbling and taking them in.
There are two reasons we’d book Fi’ila, the first being the incredible views of the city from its terrace – and the fact it offers these views without extortionate prices, a hoity atmosphere or an impossible reservations system. The second is the pizza – with the dough fermented for 72 hours, stretched upon order and seemingly both thin and crispy and doughy and pillowy. With a Margharita for AED65, the price you’d pay for a more casual, less impressive eatery, Fi’Ila is one to book.