BOSTON – Since 2002, Figaro’s in Boston’s Leather District has been a haven for hungry office workers looking for a lunch that is fast, big, and delicious. The sandwiches at this busy take-out spot are full of flavor and the family that makes them is packed with personality.
Rosie Martone and her brother John run the restaurant, but they don’t do it alone. Their parents are there to help keep the peace, and to help out in the kitchen.
“My mom works here,” Rosie began. “She’s kind of like the truck driver, that’s what we call her. She’s small but she’s really, really tough. She gets a lot done fast. My dad Ralph, who’s basically in charge of making pesto, and then there’s my brother who’s basically up front. You’ll see him a lot of the times at the cash register. He’s the customer person. I’m out back usually with my staff cooking, and I’m basically the head chef. We’re very, very lucky. We have a great team here.”
Figaro’s team creates some truly spectacular sandwiches, like the Pavarotti with tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, and dad’s homemade pesto; a Steak and Cheese spiked with pepperoni, onions, and hot peppers; the Classic Italian loaded with imported meats and cheese, and Nonna’s Meatball that always brings back tasty memories.
“The smell, the aroma, the taste. Putting it in some fresh bread, with some nice cheese, it’s just an amazing sandwich and it’s a wonderful way for us to sort of reflect and remember those days when we were kids eating from my grandmother’s table,” John said.
Nonna would be proud of these meatballs, and she would also approve of the portions at Figaro’s, because the Martone family wants to make sure you mangia.
“Portion size is big,” John declared. “You know we’re big, we like to eat, we know how to eat, so we obviously want to make sure that when you come here to eat, you leave well fed and feeling good about what you just ate.”
In addition to the sandwiches, Figaro’s also makes some awesomely overstuffed wraps like the criminally good Whitey Bulger, filled with Buffalo chicken, bacon, cheddar, and ranch. But be forewarned, it’s only served on Thursdays, and it always draws a crowd.
“The Whitey Bulger has become a phenomenon. It’s literally a cult sandwich that people wrap around this place and wait for on a Thursday,” Rosie said.
For a great wrap you can eat any day of the week, order the Sonny Corleone, one recipe that Chef Rosie cannot take credit for. That credit goes to her brother, John.
“Pepperoni, roasted red peppers, chipotle mayonnaise, shredded cheddar cheese and grilled chicken,” Rosie listed, all press grilled like a burrito.
There are a few things you need to know before you go to Figaro’s. They are only open weekdays until 2:30 in the afternoon, and during the lunch rush, this small spot can fill up fast. So do everyone a favor and be sure you know how to order. You’ll find the counter to order your food all the way in back. Moving down the line, you’ll find the register to pay. Then move aside and listen for your order to be yelled out.
Despite the big lines and small space, the sandwiches still come out quickly, because Rosie and her kitchen crew are a well-oiled machine.
“There’s five of us back here,” Rosie said. It’s really, really tight quarters, but I’ve been told many, many times, ‘it is so exciting to watch you guys.’”
Of course, working in such a cramped kitchen does not come without some verbal sparring or the occasional hip check, but in the end, this family is just proud to be serving the food they love.
“I don’t know if you noticed this, but we are Italian, and with being Italian, there’s an immense amount of pride,” Rosie said. “When you come through these doors, you’re our family, you’re our friends, and we want nothing more than for you to really enjoy everything.”
You can find Figaro’s at 105 Beach Street in Boston, and online at figarosboston.com.
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