Overall: (epic fail)
Oh what a pity … Figs has really fallen flat. You can sense their hidden, reclusive quality that is masked by a lot (and I do mean a lot) of serious flaws. What was once a fantastic pizza joint is now a shameful iteration of its former self. The inner child is still there – it is just in need of some major resuscitation. The pizza in-and-of itself is okay – you could do A LOT worse – but the overall experience is just awful.
After a lot of deliberation, the family decided to make the 20 minute drive on the basis that Figs offered the "best pizza" of all the places we considered. After dropping off the ladies, the dudes went looking for a parking spot. 10-15 minutes later, we elected to forgo any further torture and play "parking roulette" (we lost). That there is no parking in Charlestown isn’t a knock on the restaurant; however, a number of nearby restaurants offer valet service to quell the problem. While I usually frown on valet at anything but high-end restaurants, this is one noticeable exception.
When I walked in, the place was relatively empty. That changed quickly as every table in the place filled up inside of 15 minutes. The restaurant turned into quite the scene, but the space was so poorly laid out that any possible benefit was lost on me. We were unfortunate enough to be crammed in the front – so our table was flanked by everyone waiting for a table.
Further adding to the problem was the wait staff. It seems our waiter(s) was overmatched. Maybe he had too many tables, maybe he was just off – but the service was fair at best. They seem to have a bad system.
My aunt, uncle, & niece ordered 2 pizzas (more than enough food for all of us). I was not in the mood for ‘za, so I decided to get a Caesar salad and steamed mussels in a red wine sauce. My uncle also ordered a beet salad (which he said was decent). I was not really expecting a whole lot from my Caesar; even so, I was disappointed. The dressing had no flavor, the croutons were like rocks, and the lettuce was not fresh. Thus, my expectations for the mussels were tempered – it was a mixed bag. The mussels themselves were small although the sauce was surprisingly good. It had a nice kick and was well balanced.
Okay – so at least I had the pizza to nibble on. What a bummer that turned out to be. Let me preface this by saying: I love risk takers – especially in the kitchen. Whether it is someone operating in the style of the famed Alexis Soyer or someone who is actually alive today – Chef Richard Blais (one of my ATL favs) comes to mind, anyone who tries to push the envelope gets a big bump from me. That said – if you fail, you can fail massively.
I have no idea how Figs can let some of their concoctions out of the tasting phase. Every restaurant has the opportunity to try their dishes before serving them to the public – so if you screw up – I’m going to call you on it. Their crispy shrimp pizza is that disaster. I first started with a single, solitary shrimp. It was lightly battered – and it was damn tasty. It was fresh and properly cooked. It left me excited for the culinary adventure to follow. That’s where everything fell apart. The pizza had garlic and artichoke- again kudos for pushing the envelope a little – but they didn’t stop there. They added guacamole (I kid you not). It was so horrendous that … well – I don’t even want to devote more of this review to the disaster. Okay, well – I still had three more types of pizza for me to try. Ughgh – they were all bad.
So there was the chicken sausage pizza – bland and underwhelming. If you want sausage – get sausage, if you want chicken … well you get the idea. That left the pepperoni pizza (bland as well) and the fried calamari pizza (ooh another exciting envelope pusher). Not so fast – first off – there was arugula in the pizza. I don’t eat fried calamari on salad – so I don’t want it in my calamari pizza either. After it sat on top of hot cheese and under fried seafood – the leaves became warm mush. Ever tried warm greens? There’s a reason for that. That aspect could have been easily averted if they placed the arugula on top of the pizza. Then there was the calamari. Much like the shrimp, it was excellent (until you try it with everything else). There was so much calamari on the pizza – it covered nearly every inch of the slices. When you went to pick it up – most of it toppled off. That’s a major fail IMHO. It didn’t help that there was some sort of sweet sauce that had been drizzled on top (quite excessively at that).
Bottom line – a $125 meal consisting primarily of pizza better be good – this was anything but. I’ll give Figs props for using high quality ingredients (most of the time). That isn’t an excuse for poor execution and inferior dishes. I’m all for creativity – but just because it can go together doesn’t mean it should. They need to seriously rethink their concept if they want delicious Neapolitan pizza to return.