Figlio is a great idea — Fraze or no Fraze

The closest, most convenient restaurant located near the Rose Music Center is a no-brainer as I pointed out last Sunday, but the closest restaurant near the Fraze isn’t so clear-cut.

There are some quick, tasty and relatively cheap dining options like OinkADoodleMoo, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle, Firehouse Subs, Flyboys Deli, KD’s Bar-B-Q, Arepas and Co. and Hot Head Burritos nearby.

There are several good Mexican joints (Elsa’s and Carmel’s) as well as a couple of good places to get Italian food (Mamma DiSalvo’s, Troni’s Pizza & Restaurant) less than two miles away.

And there are several standouts that will elevate virtually any night out, live music or not — Hawthorn Grill, Oakwood Club and Figlio are at the top of the list.

As one of my concert buddies suggested to me not so long ago, “you could always base your restaurant choice on what show you are going to see.”

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Good advice.

That’s how we found ourselves at Figlio sampling multiple dishes recently added to the menu.

The restaurant offers various seating options for groups large and small — at the bar, dining room, a large private party room, a 4-season room that allows you to see outdoors, but not feel the effects and a nice large square high top in the middle of the dining room that allows a larger party to talk and enjoy dinner a little bit more effortlessly.

In addition to create-your-own pizzas, there are 14 specialty pizzas to choose from including three new additions:

• A spring chicken pizza ($13.50) made with grilled chicken on an olive oil brushed crust with tomato and corn salsa, avocado, Vermont cheddar and a drizzle of slightly tart basil pesto crème fraîche.

• An artichoke heart and tomato pizza ($12.50) made with the previously billed artichokes and fresh tomatoes, as well as black olives, Parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil pesto.

• A spicy tomato and blackened chicken ($13.95) made with Penne pasta in a spicy tomato sauce with blackened chicken, artichoke hearts, spinach, kalamata olives and feta cheese.

The crust on a Figlio pizza is delightful. I suggest splitting it with a friend and ordering a pasta dish to drag those light, buttery crunchy crusts through. The pizzas are well sauced and there was a nice amount of cheese. But pizza is a relatively cheap proposition, so why short on ingredients? On a six slice spring chicken pizza, there were only 11 modest pieces of chicken. Although delicious and flavorful, the amount of protein and other toppings seemed rather Spartan.

Likewise, the Peasant Salad ($6.50) made with lettuce, spinach tossed with bacon, egg, red onion, cheddar, peas, peppers and “Peasant dressing” — a dish that was featured at the Peasant Stock restaurant so very long ago and one of my favorite salads in town — arrived prudently portioned for the price. On other visits, I have seen it more appropriately portioned. I would still order it again regardless. After all, a favorite dish is a favorite dish.

A standout on the new pasta dishes added was the salmon, shrimp and scallop Provencal ($19.50). A nest of Al dente linguine is served up in a light tomato sauce with three nice sized shrimp, a silky sea scallop and a lovely piece of perfectly executed fresh salmon sauteed in olive oil with spinach topped with Parmesan cheese. It was a fantastic dish that I will be back to try again. This dish highlights many of the simple flavors of Southern France in a way that let them sing without getting complicated. My only critique would be it was a little heavy on the oil.

Other new pasta dishes added to the menu include a basil chicken with feta ($14.50) dish served with linguine in a basil pesto sauce topped with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, fresh tomatoes, pine nuts, and feta cheese and a drunken shrimp pasta dish ($14.95) made with penne pasta in an vodka and tomato cream sauce with spicy shrimp sauteed in black and white pepper, finished with Asiago cheese.

A walleye ($22) dusted in cornmeal and pan sauteed in olive oil and served with buttery Yukon gold mashed potatoes with spinach, tomato and corn salsa and citrus beurre blanc has been added to the entree list as well as a dish featuring sliced tenderloin ($17) sauteed in a shallot and peppercorn sauce with roasted potatoes, Crimini mushrooms, spinach, cherry tomatoes, asparagus spears and a sprinkling of Gorgonsola cheese.

Depending on your level of hunger consider starting with a cup of heavenly creamy crab and corn chowder ($6) or the Prince Edward Island Mussels appetizer ($12) steamed in a jalapeno tomato butter broth served with toasted crusty bread.

In addition to a robust wine list and beer selection there is a list of classic martinis ($8) and a newer OYO Stonefruit martini made with OYO vodka, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, Cointreau, almond essence and muddled orange ($9).

New options on a familiar menu are always welcome — I wish more restaurants would consider more frequent menu additions.

Fraze or no Fraze, Figlio is worth seeking out if you haven’t yet been there or if it’s been a while.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Tell us about your enu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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