It’s always a blow to see a restaurant venture spearheaded by a James Beard-nominated chef turn in the towel. And watching Paul Verica’s Orto do so was no different. However, it softens the blow when the space is then filled with the fresh vibrancy born from brand new restaurants. And Figo36, the fledgling Italian restaurant occupying Orto’s old space on 36th Street, is nothing if not vibrant.
Figo36 is being introduced to the NoDa neighborhood by Menagerie Hospitality Group, which is headed by Daniel Weiss and local to Charlotte. Menagerie is responsible for The Wine Loft in South End, an intimate venue with a robust wine collection, small plates, and live music. they are also behind The Vintage Whiskey and Cigar Bar in South End. Guest experience drives every enterprise by Menagerie. Figo36, although the group’s first dip into a full food menu, is no different.
A Nod to the Neighborhood
When deciding on the name for their new restaurant, the Menagerie team kicked around ideas that evoked “cool.” Ultimately, they landed on the word “figo” which translates to “cool” in Italian. And it seems fitting for Figo36, which calls itself contemporary casual. It’s a place that feels festive but not fussy, a step down from fine dining but a step up from casual dining.
“We went to work building a restaurant that would reflect the neighborhood in its design,” says Darci Frank. To that end, diners will discover lively colors and draping plants that conjure NoDa’s vibrant youthfulness, as well as swaths of graffiti along the bar area that nod toward the grassroots arts scene for which NoDa has been a longtime incubator. All in all, Figo36 exudes the vibe that, if it were a person, it would be fashionably late to every party.
Pasta, Pizza, Pizzazz
The anchors of Figo36’s menu are the house-made pasta and Neapolitan hand-tossed pizza. The restaurant’s novelty resides in its decor, preferring to lean on the traditional, with a few Southern twists, when crafting its food menu. Classics like pasta alla vodka, shrimp scampi, and linguini alfredo dominate the pasta offerings. Most of Figo’s pizzas have on a base of housemade dough that uses super-fine tipo 00 flour. That being said, gluten-free variations are available, as are vegan toppings. We recommend pairing your pasta or pizza with a glass of wine from Figo36’s curated list.
The menu also features a sizable antipasti section with options like whipped ricotta, calamari fritti, classic bruschetta, and fried ravioli. In true Italian style, Figo36 is open until midnight on the weekends, with the kitchen offering up antipasti dishes late into the night, providing a more elevated late snack for the NoDa bar hoppers and live music seekers. So, stop by late in the evening for an antipasti and nightcap created by Beverage Director Rob Florio, like the bell pepper Aperol spritz.
Not Your Traditional Italian Restaurant
As standard as the menu may be, the creators of Figo36 (with the help of Designbar, a Charlotte-based commercial interior designer) have built an atmosphere of youthfulness and modernity.
“Unlike other Italian restaurants, we wanted Figo36 to reflect the artistic eclecticism of the beautiful NoDa neighborhood. We also want it to be a “cool” place to hang with friends, family, or that special someone,” says Frank.