(Penne with wild boar)
I’m not a huge pasta lover. Sounds ludicrous, I know.
You might find normalcy in knowing I used to be until that sad day when I took my father out to a well-rated Italian restaurant in DC, in celebration of his 55th birthday. I was so excited to treat him to his favorite cuisine, and couldn’t wait to peruse the menu I’d heard such great things about. I ordered butternut squash tortellini in a cream sauce.
I got sick that night and since then, I’ve had a severe case of bias when it comes to eating Italian food. Unless it’s homemade by a trusted source, or I make it myself, I tend to forgo indulging in anything of the like. Ironically enough, some of the best food I’ve ever had, was in Sorrento Italy, many years ago and long before that lunch date with dad.
It’s taken 10 years to incorporate pasta (not all Italian) back in my repertoire. Admittedly, I have missed out on some incredible invitations to eat Italian.
But, one restaurant has quickly begun to change my askew attitude toward Italian.
I first went to FIGO when I moved to Atlanta, some four years ago. It was a fly, impromptu lunch meeting and I was short of excited about eating there. But, my friend was treating me and it was a lovely day out; just like when I took dad out.
The decor of the quaint place was rustic and not fancy. Because I wasn’t crazy about the idea of eating there to begin with, I was amused by the hand carved wood frames, which I quickly inquired about. My friend insisted I order and so I sighed and did so.
I had a butternut squash with radicchio ravioli dish—again. But, this time, ooh wee was it good. And, most importantly I didn’t get sick.
It’s called Zucca.
(my fave: Zucca. Picture courtesy of FIGO)
However, I wasn’t impressed enough to go back until this year, believe it or not. Since my first visit in 2006, 4 other locations in Atlanta have opened, with a total of 7 and one located only 5 minutes from home. My dear friend A loves pasta. Understand this. This man will debate you over where to eat if dining out is decided. I’m for Sushi. He’s for Italian. So, I allowed him to convince me this one time to go FIGO with him. I wasn’t too hard on him since my one and only experience was actually pretty decent.
I ordered the same thing, Zucca, 4 years later, and was pleasantly surprised that the dish had improved in so many ways. Albeit a to-go order, the sauce was much in tact when we got home.
Interestingly enough, I received an invite for a media luncheon back in February at Figo’s 2nd location in the Westside of Atlanta, which I’ve tired out driving past and considered stepping in. It was pouring outside the day of lunch, but I desperately needed to leave my home-office and so I mosied my way over there; I brought A with me.
Aesthetically, the restaurant hadn’t changed much. Like the 1st visit, the one thing that jumped out at me was art work. On each table, inclusive of the large farm like table 15 other food writers were glued to, were beautifully hand-painted salt and pepper grinders. You know what I did: quickly inquired about them and was just as quickly shut down. They weren’t for sale nor could I bribe the owner into giving me one.
(Mista salad; hand-painted grinders)
Nonetheless, they were gorgeous and are individually hand-painted by the employees, bearing different iconography of Italian culture.
But, let’s get to the food. I understand and I represent to you that this was a media lunch so extra care may have been dished out in serving us extraordinary food. And, indeed all the options were delectable. In true Italian fashion, food was constantly coming from the open chef’s window and an a generous amount each time. A full spread with options I couldn’t taste (shellfish, ham, etc…) looked and smelled amazing. On the menu was my butternut squash ravioli. I wasn’t bold enough to ask for a family style plate for myself since I couldn’t enjoy some of the other dishes.
Still again, my favorite dish had good flavor. The texture of the pasta was smooth and the sauce was evenly blended. A generous amount of butternut squash was stuffed in the pasta, so I was extremely content. Among the other plates, I really enjoyed the braised short rib with Pomodoro ravioli, the chicken panini and the spinach salad with it’s homemade vinaigrette dressing, golden grapes and walnuts.
(spinach salad; Mista salad)
Oh yes, and the All FIGOttini and bruschetta appetizer was one nearly devoured by the entire table guests. Freshest and most succulent tomatoes I’d eaten in a long time!
The special thing about Figo is the owner and chef Sandro Romagnoli. He opened Figo with the purpose of offering a true Italian home-style ambiance and experience. All of the pastas and sauces are made from scratch and homemade every day, with the option of making up to close to 600 pasta and sauce combos. Now, that’s some serious Italian cooking. Another note worthy of mentioning is Sandro’s conscious move to offer gluten-free dishes. With celiac disease becoming more common, Sandro feels it’s important to cater to those with special dietary needs so that every one is able to enjoy a family and delicious moment. This is food he grew up eating in a very tight knit culture where eating is the center of gatherings.
Figo offers just that. Perfect for big lunch meetings, family dinner, couple’s night (in my case when I’m not opting for sushi) or just because the food is really an authentic representation of the soul of Italian food.
Wear casual chic and bring a huge appetite. They like to feed you as much as us Cubans!
Last visit: June ’10 – 7th visit
2941 Paces Ferry Rd NE
And 6 other locations.
P: 770.431.4988 | web: figopasta.com
|Dinner: $12-$25 Dessert: $7
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.