Figo Pasta is a locally owned local Italian restaurant with eight locations in the Atlanta area. Several weeks ago, the restaurant started offering a gluten-free menu but when I confirmed that they were serving corn pasta, I incorrectly assumed it would not be worth trying. Just recently I posted about the amazing pasta Le Veneziane, a corn pasta made in Italy that someone talked me into trying. The Le Veneziane is out of this world delicious and their fettuccine is now a staple in our pantry!
After my excellent experiment with the other corn pasta made in Italy, I realized there might be a reason to check out the offerings at Figo Pasta. Finally, when a gluten eater I know said he thought the gluten-free pasta at Figo was excellent, my decision to give it a try was cemented. We made plans to see the wonderful DaVinci exhibit at the HIGH Museum with friends before having lunch at Figo Pasta.
On an unseasonably cold day in Atlanta, we trekked into the city to the HIGH and later headed to the Virginia Highlands location of Figo for lunch. There is parking for that location behind the building and there is a sign directing Figo patrons where to park. Once inside the warm inviting space, we found a rustically decorated Italian-type bistro. Guests place their orders and pay at the counter up front and then seat themselves. The food is delivered as it’s ready. Since all the sauces were marked gluten-free on the menu, it took me a while to decide on my order. Finally, I chose the 4 Formaggi (four cheese) pasta. My husband ordered gluten-free pasta with Ragu’ alla Bolognese sauce. We also got one large salad – Spinaci e Caprino – to split.
Our salad arrived quickly and we enjoyed the mixed greens with goat cheese and raisins. The dressing was one of the best I’ve had in a while but there was just a tad too much of it for our taste. My husband prefers no dressing and I prefer my dressing on the side so we’ll order that way in the future. I could tell by the flavor of the dressing that the olive oil they used to make it was not your run of the mill olive oil.
When our entrees arrived, they both looked lovely and the portion sizes were very nice as well. Of course, the look of the food means nothing if it doesn’t also taste great. The first bite of my delicious pasta dish left me feeling a bit uneasy, as if I’d been served gluten pasta by mistake. Then I remembered that as it was served, the manager confirmed that both my dish and my husband’s were gluten-free. Also, like most corn pasta, there was a slight yellow tone to the pasta. My husband thought his pasta was great but would have preferred a heavier sauce with it. His sauce was a bit heavy for my taste.
During out visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Sandro Romagnoli, the owner of Figo Pasta restaurants. He is from Italy and therefore he’s extremely concerned with the taste of anything he offers his guests. As he explained it, he would not offer a dish that he didn’t feel was good enough for him to enjoy. The way Sandro decided on which gluten-free pasta to use was by doing blind taste tests himself. When he could not figure out which pasta contained gluten and which one was gluten-free, he had his answer. He tried the most popular gluten-free pastas on the market and not surprisingly those didn’t make the grade.
If you know any Italians, you know they are serious about food. Just as in Italy, they prefer using real ingredients and the making dining experience pleasurable in all ways. Sandro lives up to his heritage and deserves to be proud of the food he’s serving to the gluten-free community. There are many companies jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon to make a quick buck. In the case of Figo Pasta, several long time customers found out they could no longer tolerate gluten. Wanting to keep his loyal customers happy, Sandro got to work on figuring out how to do that, while not compromising his principles about serving wonderful tasting food. The statement from the Figo Pasta website (below) says it all.
Though we do not like rules, we have one simple one. If you do not LOVE the dish you have selected, please let us know and we will make you another one. And we will keep making new ones till you are in love with your meal.
Presently, Figo Pasta does not offer any gluten-free desserts and there is only one gluten-free appetizer. Many of the salads are safe and the dressings are made in house. If you are in or around the Atlanta area, treat yourself to a wonderful gluten-free meal at Figo Pasta. For about $10, you can enjoy a gluten-free pasta dish. The upcharge is only $1 for gluten-free pasta, also the lowest I’ve found in this area. In these trying economic times, it’s nice to be able to enjoy a delicious gluten-free meal that offers such great value!