“The Town” Favorite: Figs in Charlestown, Mass.

7 Jun

This week I’m back in Boston to attend my little sister’s high school graduation (congrats, Kristen!) so I made sure to hit some of my favorite places. Stop number one: Figs in Charlestown.

Charlestown used to be my neighborhood, so it will always have a special place in my heart. (Yes, I’m talking about the same Charlestown that inspired the 2010 Ben Affleck movie “The Town” but it is far nicer and more quaint than the movie depicted! But that’s a different story for a different day.)

Figs is a Todd English restaurant (one of his first, I believe), the casual cousin to his more famous Olives, which is just a few blocks away. (For my money, having tried both, Figs comes out the winner—for your stomach and your wallet!) Figs is tucked away on tree-lined Main Street in Charlestown’s gaslight district. It’s pretty tiny—you certainly get cozy with your neighboring tables—but the dark wood and even darker lighting lends a slightly upscale look to what otherwise feels like just your typical beloved neighborhood spot. The pizza station and brick oven are open so you can watch them making the pizza, but no one seems to notice, instead chatting with their dining companions and diving into the huge pizzas.

My friend and fellow “townie” Ashley joined me a little before 7 PM on Monday and we had our pick of tables, but it started to fill up towards 7:30. Later in the week, reservations during peak hours are advised.

The menu is overwhelming, not for its size but for its array of tempting options. The pizzas are definitely the specialties, though I’ve heard good things about the pasta. Pizza options range from the traditional—bianco, crispy eggplant, four cheese—to the more unique, such as the shrimp scampi pizza (spicy gulf shrimp with caramelized leeks and tomato sauce), the “Red Sox” pizza (caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, sweet sausage, mozzarella, tomato sauce and mustard aioli) and the calamari pizza (crispy calamari, tomato sauce, arugula, hot peppers and lemon aioli).

The staff is always very attentive and friendly, and the service timely. Our server brought over focaccia bread topped with carmelized onions, with a side dish of various types of olives sitting in olive oil for dipping. When I asked if the bread had any nuts, he assured me that it did not; he seemed very well-versed in the restaurant’s allergy-friendliness, going on to tell me that they are very aware of the rising prevalence of food allergies and have even made their pesto nut-free, calling it “basil aioli” instead.

When we ordered the pizza—half “Portobello” (portobello mushrooms, wild mushroom purée, roasted red onions, fontina cheese and truffle oil) and half “Fig & Prosciutto” (crisp rosemary crust with fig and balsamic jam, prosciutto & gorgonzola cheese)—and I asked him about again about nuts, he said there were no nuts in the pizzas but would make sure to inform the kitchen so they would be aware. After eating, I had no allergy incidents to report.

The large pizzas are huge—served on a flipped-over baking tray, they hang over the sides. The crust is really thin and crispy, allowing the toppings to take center stage.

Deliciousness.

The prosciutto and fig is one of my favorite pizzas, not just from Figs but from anywhere. Big chunks of sweet fig jam are balanced out by thin, salty slices of prosciutto, scattered with green onions. Though the patches of gorgonzola lend another salty layer to the slice, the balance definitely still falls on the sweet side. The subtle drizzle of balsamic really rounds out the flavors and ties it together nicely. It may be slightly too sweet for some, but to my taste buds, it’s perfect.

The portobello pizza is another favorite. Despite the fact that the mushrooms are the most represented ingredient, the standout flavor is really the truffle oil, lending a buttery overtone to the otherwise earthy pizza. The mushroom flavor is not at all overpowering—the portobello slices are roasted or perhaps even carmelized and are considerably spaced out, and the wild mushroom purée seems to be mixed with the fontina cheese and baked into the pizza itself.

[Sources also tell me that the bread pudding with drizzled caramel is amazing…  and by sources I mean my memory.]

We each had a large slice of both pizzas and were too full to attempt another one, leaving us each with another two slices to take home. After the large pizza and a glass of wine or beer each, we each paid $20 after tip. Not too shabby!

All in all, a delicious, relatively economical, reliable, allergy-friendly spot. They also do take out! If you find yourself in or around Charlestown, definitely stop by.

RATINGS

  • Food: 8
  • Presentation: 7
  • Menu: 8
  • Service: 8
  • Ambiance: 7
  • Allergy-friendliness: 7.5
  • Cost: $-$$ ($.5?)

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

THE DEETS

Figs
67 Main Street
Charlestown, MA 02129-3738
(617) 242-2229

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2 Responses to ““The Town” Favorite: Figs in Charlestown, Mass.”

  1. Rick June 8, 2011 at 5:44 AM #

    Agree. Great place. One of my favorites!

  2. FreeSpiritEater July 12, 2011 at 12:43 PM #

    I’ve been thinking about figs lately while coming up with cornish hen recipes. Great photos, thanks so much for sharing! =]
    -FreeSpiritEater

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