Italians have their own word for a shop that sells fried food – friggitoria – and Valerio Calabro realised Melbourne was severely lacking in these iconic institutions.
“I couldn’t work out why I couldn’t get some street food and a glass of wine around here,” he says.
Valerio (who also co-owns La Svolta in Hampton), in collaboration with his wife, Sally Calabro, and Andrea Pagani, decided to open what the southside was missing: Figo, a relaxed takeaway restaurant combining Italian fried food with pizza, booze and dessert.
When we say relaxed, we mean it. If you want a glass of wine, it’s served in a regular latte glass. Pagani says this is “traditionally Italian”.
“We’ve gone for a New York pizza bar sort of feel,” Valerio says of the 20-table restaurant with steel-bench seating and round red tables, designed by Melbourne studio Projects of Imagination (also behind Chin Chin and Supernormal). The branding includes a “Figo man” logo – a mini delivery man with “a classic Italian haircut, double chin and no legs”.
When it comes to the fritto misto (assorted fried food), there’s an item from almost every part of Italy. “There’s the polenta to represent the north, the seafood from the coasts and the arancini from Sicily,” says Valerio. A sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon is all it takes to finish these dishes off.
Other dishes include the panzerotto fritto, two deep-fried mini calzones filled with prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato and basil that are “perfect for hangovers”, according to Pagani; and cosoletta, parmesan- and garlic-crumbed lamb cutlets thrown into the deep fryer.
Keep an eye out for the carbonara pizza, with pancetta, garlic, eggs and pecorino.
Six pozzetti (refrigerated wells) are filled with a rotation of Gelateria Primavera’s own flavours.
73 Brighton Road, Elwood
(03) 9531 7732
Wed to Mon, 5pm–11pm