Over the past 6 - 12 months I have made some of my best food discoveries on Instagram. Often times I learn of a new restaurant by seeing a photo of one of their dishes. That was the case with a wood fire pizza place in Providence, RI called Figidini. While scrolling through my Instagram feed their burratta pizza caught my eye and I decided that very instant I would dine there during my trip to Providence.
Figidini is located in a neighborhood called Downcity. The restaurant is on Washington Street, in the center of a row of shops, restaurants, bakeries and bars.
Out front they have a petite patio that seats eight. I was very happy to learn that their outdoor space is dog friendly. When a couple arrived for dinner with their pooch in tow, the waitress came right back out with a bowl of water for the dog. I definitely made a mental note that Scout could join me next time.
Inside, along the left wall, is a row of cozy tables. Diners sit beneath three shadows boxes featuring birch wood.
Directly opposite the dinner tables is the bar area. I am obsessed with the purple uplighting!
We were seated in the center of everything. Our table was closest to the bar, with a view of the dining room, but right in the front window so that we could also see everyone dining on the patio and all the people walking by out front.
Since we were in total vacation mode, we decided to split a bottle of wine. It was a very hot night (88 degrees to be exact) so we both wanted a wine that would be served chilled. At the recommendation of the sommelier, we went with a bottle of Atlantis wine, which is a white wine from Spain.
The wine came in stemless glasses which our waitress explained is an homage to the pizza maker's grandfather who always drank from stemless wine glasses. There is a photo of his grandfather, red wine in hand, hanging over the bar in the restaurant. The glasses we drank from were made as replicas of that original family glassware.
The wine itself was light, refreshing and had just a subtle hint of citrus.
After reading through every item on the menu we placed an order for four dishes to share. Our waitress returned with plates, each one with a fun design. Though I am normally all for symmetry, I kind of loved that they didn't match.
The first dish to arrive was the marcona almonds with sunflower oil, sea salt and smoked paprika. Have you ever had a marcona almond before? I am obsessed with them. They are the perfect compliment to wine and cheese. In this case, the smoked paprika added a great spice to each bite. These were downright addicting.
Next we enjoyed the saganaki. This was a block of halloumi cheese cooked in Pernod (a liqueur), topped with cracked pepper and finished with a slice of lemon.
After one bite my dinner date proclaimed, "This is the best thing I have ever had." I would have to agree, it really was exceptional. I'm always attracted to menu items with halloumi cheese, but this preparation really allowed the cheese itself to shine. We made this disappear in about 60 seconds.
Our third dish was the fingerling potatoes with roasted pepper aioli and chives. I really wanted this to taste like patatas bravas (a traditional Spanish tapas dish) but it fell short. The potatoes weren't crispy enough and the aioli was too thin.
We also decided to try one of the evening's specials, lamb lollipops over green beans and chickpeas.
The green beans and the chickpeas were cooked, blistered and seasoned perfectly. I honestly didn't know that either one of these vegetables could ever have this much flavor! Though I didn't try the lamb, my friend shared, "The lamb is really flavorful and tender. The meat is kind of fatty, but in the best way. The lamb, green beans and chickpeas all pair so well together, though I would never have thought to put those ingredients together." Between the two of us, we licked this plate clean. I couldn't stop snagging green beans and she made sure to get every last chickpea onto her fork.
We couldn't come to a wood fire pizza place and not get pizza. Figidini makes their pies in the traditional Neopolitan style. Though they offer all kinds of toppings and flavor combinations, we opted for the classic - the Margherita Extra.
When the pizza arrives at your table it has not yet been cut. The waitress brings each person at the table a pizza knife which ahs been imported from Naples, Italy. Apparently the correct way to use one of these knives is to make a rocking motion as you try to cut yourself a slice, not to try and saw it or cut it like you would with scissors.
This pizza had a magical crust - it was paper thin on the bottom, while also having those delicious, chewy bubbles on the top. The tomato sauce was sweet and there was a healthy dose of mozzarella cheese in every single bite. I also love the way basil crisps up in a pizza oven.
Just like the three dishes before this, we made this pizza disappear at lightning speed. It was so good that for a brief moment we considered ordering a second one.
Once we'd finished the entire pie, the platter revealed a cartoon underneath. Our waitress explained that all the Margherita Extra pizzas are served on these plates that depict Pulcinella, the official mascot of Neopolitan style pizza.
If you haven't noticed, our waitress was providing fun facts throughout our entire meal. We both agreed she was one of the best servers either of us have had in a very long time. She was kind, friendly, energetic and knew absolutely everything about the restaurant, the pizza maker and how each and every dish is prepared. In fact, when the plates were cleared and our wine was finished, we asked for her recommendation on a place we could go for dessert. With zero hesitation she recommended Pastiche in Federal Hill, Providence's Little Italy. Armed with the address she scribbled for us, we took an Uber to this pastry paradise.
Pastiche is like the vibe of Caffe Vittoria mixed with the dessert decadence of Modern Pastry. We each had a mini chocolate walnut cookie, then I had a slice of chocolate cream pie the size of my head and my travel buddy had a chocolate peanut butter brownie (with a glass of milk!). The portion sizes were so enormous that we had to tap out and box up both of our treats.
Our evening of Italian specialties in Providence was a 10 out of 10. If you're planning a trip to Providence or can hop off 95 on the way home from Connecticut or New York, I highly recommend Figidini and then a quick ride over to Pastiche. You may be full for another 24 hours afterward, but it's totally worth it.