All of our favorite restaurants have a good story behind them. We've found that the best food is handcrafted with love, and that owning a restaurant is usually driven by passion. We sat down with Sandro Romagnoli, the restauranteur behind Figo (which means much loved in Italian) to hear about his story and how he started Figo City Fast downtown.
Tell us about yourself. I left my hometown of Certaldo, Italy, for the United States in 1995. When I looked back to a time when I was the most fulfilled I realized it was while working as a server at The George Hotel of Stamford in England, carving meat and slicing salmon tableside, I was happiest. Fifteen years of intense international travel that introduced me to more than 65 countries did not compare to the intense joy I felt while connecting with guests, despite a language barrier. In the summer of 2001, following a chain of unpredictable events and equipped with nothing more than a strong desire to fulfill my new mantra, FIGO – which translates in Italian to something that is outstanding or much-loved – was founded. Not while sitting around a table and formally developing a business plan, but by unwavering, and at times, irrational, passion.
When did you start Figo? Summer of 2001
Why did you start the restaurant? I was going to be in a business that would give me the opportunity to establish a connection with people. My commitment was, "whatever I am going to be doing, I am going to be in the business of making people happy."
Where are you from in Italy? Certaldo, Italy. A small town in the Tuscan Region.
What traditional elements from your hometown can we see in Figo food? The quality of the ingredients and the simplicity of the dishes are at the base of home cooking in my hometown of Certaldo and that is what we have reproduced at FIGO.
How has the restaurant evolved and changed over time, and how did this lead to the Figo City Fast brand? From offering one pasta and one sauce we have grown to over 600 combinations on our menu, We are no longer just pasta but we are also knows for extraordinary panini, salads and so on. FIGO City Fast is the results of our commitment to continuously wanting to satisfy Guests need (speed in this case) without ever jeopardizing the quality. FIGO City Fast, is able to offer the usual FIGO quality while guaranteeing a 3 minutes turn around from placing the order to receiving the food. our guest can “be the chef” and pick-&-choose from fresh ingredients to create their desired dish, made-to-order.
What is your favorite Figo City Fast menu item? The Zucca - Butternut squash and amaretto ravioli with a mascarpone and Italian red chicory radicchio sauce (pictured below).