When you walk into Figidini Wood Fire Eatery, the sleek metal tables contrast with the arboreal decorations, transporting you from snowy Providence streets to the warm Italian countryside. The domed wood-fired grill sits in plain view of the eating area, giving the restaurant an industrial cabin feel, which is facilitated by wood-paneled walls and glass-domed lamps.
Frankie and Kara Cecchinelli opened Figidini in May 2013, preserving the wood-fired grilling tradition of Frankie’s childhood, according to their website. The restaurant — which serves local vegetables, seafood and poultry — is at 67 Washington St., just off Kennedy Plaza.
Figidini was lively but not overcrowded on a recent Friday evening — though the restaurant does not accept reservations, the wait for a table was not long. The cacti planted in simple wooden boxes give each table a unique, outdoorsy touch, and the warm atmosphere and accommodating wait staff further remove you from the barren city streets just beyond the window.
Figidini offers a number of seasonal appetizers, including a goat cheese salad and a butternut bisque. Prior to ordering your pizza, you can also select a small plate of grilled items, such as sausage and zucchini.
The kale salad features cubed golden beets, bits of roasted pistachios and a crown of apple slivers, all topped off with a Gorgonzola cream dressing. The salad looks elegant, and the pistachios and apples add a nice crunch. The earthiness of the beets also compliments the bitter kale leaves, though the sauce is too rich for the already meaty kale, making the dish unnecessarily savory. A lighter, tangier dressing would have done the kale more justice and might have worked better with the sweetness of the apples.
You can also begin your meal with the scallop appetizer — four seared scallops roasted in a chili ginger oil and finished with lemon zest, surrounded by delicate mounds of toasted pistachios. The oil is flavorful, but it overpowers the scallops, while the pistachios again make the dish too salty. Even so, the chili ginger oil gives the dish a refreshing kick, and as promised, the scallops are incredibly fresh.
Though the starters are slightly underwhelming, the grilled pizza makes the adventure downtown worthwhile. Unfortunately, you cannot order half-and-half pies, but you can choose from the selection of about eight pizzas. The cherry tomato pie features thick slices of mozzarella with juicy tomatoes and ample olive oil. Per Italian tradition, the pizza comes uncut, though the freshness of the crust ensures this is far from a hassle. If anything, the excitement of digging into your own pie enhances the experience.
The crust is thick and chewy, grilled perfectly so that its smokiness complements the sweetness of the tomatoes. The mozzarella, enhanced with sea salt, garlic and olive oil, is packed with flavor. The pizza proves too oily, but the richness of the oil does not overwhelm the subtle savoriness of the mozzarella or the juicy tomatoes. At the end of the meal, the last of the pizza crust is perfect to sop up the remaining olive oil for a post-meal treat. The pies come big, so if you’re looking to save a little dough, sharing is definitely feasible.
To finish the meal, the cheese and truffle dessert plate is served simply with a shortbread cookie, marmalade, two truffles and chunks of Gorgonzola cheese. The crunchy cookie pairs nicely with the tangy marmalade, and it is refreshing to finish the meal with the subtle sweetness of truffles coated in cocoa powder. This is the only dessert option at the restaurant, so if you have a more aggressive sweet tooth, you might want to hold off until your midnight frozen yogurt run.
Figidini also offers a varied selection of local Providence-brewed beers, which — though a bit pricey — prove a nice break from Natty Lights. The restaurant offers Marzen of Revival Brewing Company or — if you are looking for a hoppier brew — the Mercy Brown by Trinity Brewhouse.
For those seeking an off-the-hill reprieve from their studies, Figidini has an upbeat yet cozy atmosphere and efficient service. Situated right off Kennedy Plaza, it’s easily reached by bus, a must for students trekking through these wintry conditions. Pizza aside, drinks and appetizers can push the bill to well over $60 — but it’s a fun way to eat away the stress of shopping period if you are willing to throw down a few extra dollars for a great pie.
Figidini Wood Fire Grill. 67 Washington St. Tuesday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays. No reservations accepted. 401.808.6886. figidini.com.