Roman style pizzas, antipasti, and gelato is the order of the day at Elwood’s Figo Cantina.
And, just like that, summer is over. Well, technically summer is over, but the forecast for the next few weeks disagrees, so there’s still plenty of balmy evenings ahead to be spent with good food and best friends. And one half of the duo behind Hampton favourite La Svolta can make those fleeting summer dreams a reality at his new Elwood outpost, Figo Cantina.
Figo means cool in Italian, and the walk-in Brighton Road cantina delivers on that promise with a venue that is bright, sleek, and breezy while still creating the sense of shared warmth and hospitality that permeates Italian dining culture. Spread across two storefronts, Figo Cantina sits perched on the corner of leafy Wimbledon Avenue with an outdoor seating area, while Figo Pizza next door sees a rotating cast of locals and visitors bustling in and out for one of Figo’s Roman-style pizzas.
Figo is the brainchild of Valerio Calabro. Calabro, a passionate home cook, ventured to Australia from his Italian homeland with a dream of recreating the fresh flavours of home here in Melbourne using local in-season produce, as well as imported delights. The result is a menu rich in tradition and flavour. Calabro leads the kitchen at Figo, with antipasti and Italian street food taking centre stage.
The menu, in true Italian style, is designed to be shared. Whether that’s a shared pizza or some of Figo’s “fritto bites” – individual fried street food treats – there’s plenty to be had and shared. Earlier this week I got to sample some of the dishes on offer, and I couldn’t get enough of the Fritto Misto, a traditional Italian coastal dish. A generous helping of deep-fried calamari, whitebait, and school prawns tossed together with lemon juice and served with aioli. The Fritto Misto was just perfect with an Aperol Spritz on a warm, seaside scented Elwood evening.
Other fried fancies on offer are Arancino Rosso – a rich bolognese ragu, mozzarella, and rice ball – and the show-stopping panzerotto: a deep-fried calzone with ham, tomato, mozzarella, basil, and oregano. But there’s plenty of lightness and freshness available as well, with the classic Insalata Caprese a hot favourite on the menu and Insalata Caprina muddling together tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil, and goats cheese for a fresh and tangy alternative.
If you’re more of a grazer, then you’re going to be in your element at Figo Cantina! Calabro has sourced some of the finest salumi from Australia and some of Italy’s most reputable producers to deliver a carefully curated selection of prosciutto, bresaola, mortadella and more. And for the cheese lovers out there, Figo have a fromaggi selection that will hit the spot – think raspadura, taleggio, gorgonzola, and pecorino and you’re on the right track.
If you’re not quite ready to let go of those summer days, then head down to Figo Cantina to make the most of the sunshine. If you don’t get a chance to visit before the remaining summer days give way to a cool and crunchy autumn, don’t worry, Figo keeps those warm Italian evenings alive all year round with their fresh and fun dishes. Oh, and did I mention they deliver? They sure do, so if you’re feeling the call of the couch, they’ve got you covered there too!
Figo Cantina and Pizza
73 Brighton Rd, Elwood
Phone: (03) 9531 7732