Saturday, April 27, 2019

Restaurant Impossible - Filomena's Italian Kitchen and Market Update

Tonight on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine and his crew are in Costa Mesa, California to makeover Filomena's Italian Kitchen and Market.  Filomena's Italian Kitchen and Market is owned by Linda Johnsen and despite a clean kitchen, organized dining room and allegedly good food, she hasn't been able to pay herself since opening.  Linda and Robert Irvine butt heads during the makeover and Robert Irvine has called it the most explosive day 1 of Restaurant Impossible in the history of the show.

As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Filomena's Italian Kitchen and Market to get an idea of how the restaurant is doing since Robert Irvine visited, and here is what I found (note - all reviews are post Restaurant: Impossible):

Positive Reviews:
  • "One of the best bolognese dishes in all of OC! Portion is large, and sauce is rich and flavorful! Service was excellent on all our visits here.I wish I could have discovered this place sooner. Free off street parking."
  • "This place is unbelievable. Service isn't the fastest but they all mean well and are super friendly and the food is by a mile the best in town. I absolutely love and recommend it. Best pasta for miles and best pizza in all of OC. Try this place and you'll be back every chance you get. Plus you can load up on goodies to bring home from the market side. Definitely best place in all of Newport/Costa mesa as far as I'm concerned!"
  • "First time visit to this restaurant was wonderful. Ordered the special Osso Buco. It was absolutely delicious. Our waiter Julian was great. They make their own pasta and gelato. I would highly recommend this restaurant and can't wait to go back."
  • "Visited the restaurant yesterday after few years. First of all, the restaurant has been remodeled and looks very nice and modern. Loved the decor and the fresh plants hung on the roof. Our table was ready when we arrived. Our server Hector was super nice and very attentive. He made sure to check upon us frequently and made the whole dinner experience very nice. Food was on point. Yummy and flavorful. "
  • "At the time of our visit everything was amazing. The food, service, server (Kelson) was so wonderful and attentive.
  • We enjoyed every bite of our meal, the Bolognese was superb. We felt the atmosphere was warm and cozy and inviting."
  • "New re model looks very nice however the flat wooden benches are not comfortable. Food however is really good best to make reservation. They do make dinner of there own pasta. Try the cheese garlic bread with Sunday sauce very good. Pizza not bad either."
  • "Truly one of the better fine dining Italian restaurants in all of Orange County, with a great deli, bakery and Italian market too.."

Negative Reviews:
  • "The food is delicious but the service is the worst! It's the smallest restaurant ever with 5 servers and I still can't get a refill or place a timely order."
  • ""New Filomena's" should go back to the old. They spent a lot of money renovating the dining room, took out the bar, bad choice, for "community tables," but won't spend money on having enough servers for good service. Nice and kind servers, but they couldn't handle the business, no cheese, forgot the neighboring tables wine, can see they were stressed, cold food that should've been hot, long time to check back, JUST REALLY POOR SERVICE! And it wasn't just us, the table next to use said something and the table behind us almost left. And what did the manager/owner just do-STAND THERE! NOTHING! Won't be back!"
*Reviews from Yelp, Google

Other News and Links:
  • The Restaurant Impossible makeover happened in February 2019.  Their first day open after the makeover was Valentine's Day, which is a popular restaurant day. (Link)
  • Here is the website and Facebook page for Filomena's Italian Kitchen and Market.
  • Filomena's Kitchen has received a lot of positive press over the years, which is listed on their website. (Link)
  • Here is the Facebook page of owner Linda Johnsen.
  • There is both a restaurant and a recently opened (2017) market which is adjacent to the restaurant.  The market features "house-made pasta, Chef Linda’s sauces, meatballs, lasagna, gelato, gourmet deli sandwiches, “grab n’ go” freshly made entrees, deli meats, cheeses, Italian cookies and pastries, and premium wines and champagne."
  • Filomena's expanded in 2015 and opened a location in Laguna Niguel, CA, but that location closed in 2016.
  • Linda talked about her expansion and said, "When I opened my second location in Laguna Niguel we struggled. It was not the right move for me, my first location struggled without me there. I eventually sold it and refocused on my business and added the Italian Market."
  • People were wondering why Filomena's Italian Kitchen needed Restaurant Impossible because it was always busy, and the restaurant responded, "We're not in trouble because of business...we are desperate for more space. They are going to do a remodel that will give us more seats!"
  • Filomena's has a 4-star out of 5 average on Yelp (467 reviews), 4.5-star out of 5 average on Tripadvisor (55 reviews) and a 4.5-star out of 5 average on Google (161 reviews).  So, the reviews before and after the makeover have been mostly positive.


The reviews for Filomena's Italian Kitchen and Market since the Restaurant Impossible makeover have been pretty much all positive.  People seem to love the food and the atmosphere, but this was also the case before Restaurant Impossible.  The few negative reviews are complaints about service at the restaurant.  Filomena's said that one of the main issues at the restaurant was the amount of space, which Restaurant Impossible would address as part of the makeover.  Maybe another reason Linda was supposedly struggling was the expansion to the Laguna Niguel location which didn't work out.

UPDATE - Filomena's appeared on a Restaurant: Impossible Revisited episode in May of 2021.

*Visit Our Restaurant Impossible Update Page to see all Restaurant: Impossible updates, and which restaurants are open, closed, or have been sold. Also Like Us on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter

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