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Figs Wood Fired Bistro Pies in Sandy Hook, Connecticut

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[Photographs: Amy Kundrat]

Figs Wood Fired Bistro

105 Church Hill Rd, Sandy Hook, CT (map); 203.426.5503; figswoodfiredbistro.com
Oven type: Custom wood-fired brick oven. The Skinny: Not your typical pies, Figs throws down compelling combinations that rival bistro fare.
Price: Eight options from $13 to $16 with additional toppings $2
Notes: Open for dinner only; Closed Sundays

The wood-fired brick oven pizzas at Figs are anything but pizza. These bistro pies are built with thin, crispy crusts that largely forgo the mozzarella and tomato duo in favor of piles of intricate toppings; components that echo the American bistro dishes that make up the rest of the menu at this popular Sandy Hook, CT restaurant. If it weren't for the prominent custom-made brick oven and a steady flow of take-out pizza boxes, you might otherwise skip the pizza menu altogether, which would be a travesty.

Beginning with organic white or whole stone ground wheat, a defiantly thin crust emerges from the Figs wood-burning stove, forming the basis for their eight signature pizzas. Minutes after biting into one of these pies, the salty, crispy crust (without much discernible chew) will already be a distant memory. It's more of a utensil at Figs, meant to wield the bold flavors and heavy pile of ingredients that make up their pizzas.

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Their wood-fired pies come in one-size and range in scope from the popular Roasted Fig, to a heavily adorned Potato Pie. In addition to their list of nine pizzas, you can create your own pizza at Figs with a short list of ingredients to set you on your way.

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The eponymous Roasted Fig is a joy ride. It features figs, gorgonzola, garlic, walnuts, and arugula. Beginning with a whole wheat crust, the pie is then smothered with a layer of garlicky roasted figs (seemingly puréed) creating a sticky and sweet base. Atop this fruity layer you'll find loads of pungent gorgonzola that would dominate the pie were it not for a final layer of sweetly dressed arugula and walnuts. The final layer of greens is tossed generously with a honey balsamic glaze. The dueling flavors of sweet and savory are woven together so evenly on this pizza you may have trouble deciding if this is dinner or dessert. The purist in you may cringe, but your inner child may revel in one thought: If this pizza were a sandwich, it would most certainly be peanut butter and jelly. And who doesn't love a PB&J?

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A second pizza, the Potato Pie, was equally disarming. Paper-thin slices of new potatoes are topped with rosemary, bacon, Vermont cheddar, Pecorino Romano cheese, and finished with a drizzle of parsley-tinged olive oil, all on top one of their regular white flour crusts. This pie has a bit more chew at the base, but is constructed with an equally complex layer of flavors. Each bite had a nice ratio of oil-slicked, herb roasted potato that exceeded the thickness of the crust. If pizza could be transformed into a loaded baked potato, this would be it.

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Located in the heart of Sandy Hook, CT, Figs opened about a year ago by chefs/owners Joe and Katherine Tartaglia who oversee these inventive pizzas, and a full list of entrees and salads. Most of the pizzas, which hover around $15, are available in either white or whole wheat.

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Beyond their unforgettable pizzas, Figs' menu is comprised of classic bistro fare nominally inspired by its location (a "Newtownian" chicken sandwich, a "Route 6" burger, to name just a few). But it's clear that pies are at the core of their business, and their departure from the red sauce pies prevalent in this Connecticut neighborhood has helped to keep Figs a prominent restaurant destination in northern Fairfield County.

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