Figlio Reborn

There have to be about a million of us that have a Figlio story.

  • Photo by Katherine Harris
    Nostalgic? Try the tortellini. Or spark curiosity with beet and goat cheese terrine.
  • Photo by Katherine Harris
  • Photo by Katherine Harris

There have to be about a million of us that have a Figlio story, owing to the number of people who’ve passed through Uptown at a certain stage in their lives. My first story involves a date and my first shot at ordering wine; panic = chianti. When Kaskaid Hospitality announced the revival of the brand, in the West End, it sent up both cheers and jeers. Some were excited to relive their past, while others were concerned that if you take Figlio out of Uptown, you take the Uptown out of Figlio.

Well, both sides are right. In the suburbs, Figlio is more of an homage to an era than it is the organically hip place it used to be. A scrawling neon logo on the bar wall and an unimpressive oblong bar can’t compete with the old vibe, but I’m not sure that matters. It seems to me that the people who are packing the place are either fine with the light reference or don’t remember the original (having been born five minutes ago).

As for the food, chef J.P. Samuelson balances the menu between the old classics and new creations. Things such as tortellini, ravioli, and Joe’s eggs are classically done, comforting, and pull that taste memory right to the front. But a few of the classics, such as pollo mattone and carpaccio, may remind some of how their palates (along with the local food scene) have evolved. On the other hand, the newer dishes tell a more modern story. Take the beautifully balanced goat cheese and striped beet terrine, for example. Simple and lovely, it appealed to my hunger instead of my nostalgia. So it goes with other J.P. dishes, including his poached eggs on an English muffin with salty cod and bĂ©arnaise. Kick it to me one more time—those are eggs. I think the greatest achievement is that the new food doesn’t stand out oddly, like it did at Sopranos. It seems to fit in the groove better, keeping its harissa cool factor but not trying too hard.

One of the best surprises about the old/new Figlio is surely the bar program. Johnny Michaels is behind the menu and understands the restraint needed for a bar bound by other people’s definitions while simultaneously courting the next wave of drinkers who can sustain the place. Bottom line: It’s good fun and decent food, whether you get the jokes or not. Figlio, 5331 W. 16th St., St. Louis Park, 952-345-2400,