My first encounter with FIGO was at an unforgettable champagne sloshed TIFF party in celebration of Xavier Dolan’s freshest film It’s Only the End of the World. The restaurant’s intimate interior was dressed up like a summer garden party, setting a romantic scene for some of France’s top acting talent to sip and nibble until the wee hours of the morning.
What I love most about covering TIFF each September is that it gives me the opportunity to scope out Toronto’s newest restaurants which host fashion-forward A-listers at exclusive film soirees. If you’re like me, you grab a drink at the bar then keep your feet firmly planted near the kitchen so you can be the first to pluck from the parade of petite canapés. TIFF parties can be a bit of a hit and miss: decor may inspire but the food may fall flat. Or cocktails may leave something to be desired while the DJ steals the show.
While rubbing shoulders with Xavier was a highlight of the evening the best buzz was lavished on Figo’s arancini: crispy, plump pillows I still find myself day dreaming about to this day.
FIGO first opened its doors in November 2015 in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district. Designed by Studio Munge, the space features an open kitchen and large dining area with eye-catching hand-painted artwork on the high ceiling as well as a large outdoor terrace.
Executive Chef Anna Chen’s menu specializes in thoughtful dishes featuring ingredients familiar to Italian cuisine, but with modern interpretations. Chen started her career at Susur Lee’s restaurant Lee then moved to Scaramouche, where she got her first true taste of Italy. After a few stints at acclaimed restaurants in England she returned to Toronto to work at celebrated Italian kitchens Enoteca Sociale and Buca.
At FIGO Chef Chen makes fresh pasta in-house daily (swoon for Tortelli swimming in sage butter) and uses a traditional wood-fired oven to produce perfectly scorched pizzas. Other menu highlights include a selection of homemade ricottas (a fluffy tuft of heaven), slick cocktails and a handful of classic Italian desserts.
Figo Cocktail | ketel one vodka, capo capo aperitivo, thyme, lemon
House Ricotta | figs, port, prosciutto
Zucchini Fritti | lemon crema fresca, honey
Arancini | cacio de pepe, lemon aioli
Carbonara Pizza | pancetta, potato, crema fresca, egg, black pepper
Tortelli | butternut squash, ricotta, butter, sage
Pana Cotta | vanilla, passion fruit, lemon balm