Our Gourmet: Hampton's Rico Figs has plenty to offerFebruary 20. 2018 11:31PM
Rico Figs822 Lafayette Road, Hampton; 926-3447;www.ricogigs.com
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Pricing: Appetizers, $4.95-$10.95; salads, $6.95-$10.95; entrees, $10.95-$18.95.
Scores for Rico Figs
The Dining Companion wanted to see the beach one recent day, but by the time we got in gear and hit Hampton it was a dark, drizzly dinnertime. We decided to eat instead, hopping off Route 101 at Lafayette Road (Route 1) and heading north in search of something tasty.
We found it about a mile up the road. Opened in the fall of 2015, Rico Figs is an inconspicuous little Italian place on a busy stretch, its main sign in the parking lot it shares with a medical business. When we visited there was still snow on the front doorstep, which opened directly into the dining room. It dawned on us later that those in the know enter through the bar, accessed by a side door.
Only four or five tables grace the room, as well as a few high-backed booths, where we were seated. The wooden floor is stained dark, with white lower walls topped with a soothing grayish-blue. There is some original artwork focusing on Americana. Classic rock played softly as we perused the menu — three laminated pages on a clipboard. There were glasses of chianti for Our Gourmet and the DC and a Coke for the 8-year-old FussBudget.
We skipped the starters, which run from meatballs to mozzarella sticks to mussels ($6.95, $7.95 and $10.95). The DC chose a salad instead, opting for a signature dish, The Rico ($8.95). This mammoth offering was large enough to serve all three of us and was a portent of the size of things to come. Fresh arugula and crispy baby spinach were topped with strawberries, pitted kalamata olives, tomato, cucumber, onion and gorgonzola crumbles, all under a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Even with OG and the FB sharing, the DC ended up taking half of this salad home. While we waited for our main course, we enjoyed first one loaf of soft, sliced Italian bread and butter, then another after the FB had inhaled more than his share.
Though he would have been content with just the bread, butter and Coke, we made the FB order a meal, which of course was the spaghetti and meatballs, as meatballs, especially, are one of the 8-year-old FB’s go-to foods. He ordered that and went back to his bread and butter until it arrived.
The healthy serving of spaghetti, big enough for most adults, was topped with a mildly spiced, thick tomato sauce and two large meatballs. OG, charged with cutting them for the lad, took the opportunity to taste, and these were good. Dense and meaty, they had a nice chew. The FB ate them right up. As usual, his spaghetti went untouched. We hope he was surprised when he opened his lunchbox at school the next day.
On an uncharacteristic whim, OG steered clear of the red sauce this evening, and ordered chicken piccata ($14.95). We expect the serving that arrived could end up being three meals, it was so large. We were able to eat half at table, and took home the rest. Two thin, lightly breaded and fried chicken breast cutlets were still crispy on the outside, yet fork-tender and nestled in a bed of linguini and smothered in fresh mushroom slices that had plenty of bounce.
We at first thought the dish might have been oversauced as our plate threatened to overflow each time we tried to cut a bite of chicken, but any excess was quickly absorbed by the pasta. It was a wonderful sauce, too, comprised of white wine and garlic and glistening with butter, with the juice of a large slice of lemon brightening up the whole dish. Capers provided a counterpoint, and if we had it to do over we’d have opted for a thinner pasta to help tangle them up in each bite. We could finish about half of this meal, and the rest was enjoyed next day.
The DC stayed to her dining-out vegetarian way, ordering the Old MacDonald flatbread ($8.85). Rico Figs offers a variety of these, which are basically personal pizzas, with toppings that can include a variety of cheeses, eggplant, and assorted meats. The DC’s version came topped with tomato, mushrooms, peppers, onion, mozzarella and marinara. The cripy crust held up well to the toppings, with the fresh vegetables offering a nice snap. She raved, but could only finish half after her salad.
We wrapped up with a slice of a blueberry-mascarpone cake, shared between the three of us. OG and the DC enjoyed the moist, white cake and creamy cheese filling, while the FB gobbled the whipped cream and a sliced strawberry.
We all were happy, with the food and with our bill, which topped out at just $68, including wine, dessert, and enough leftovers for another meal or two. That’s hard to beat, and we’ll be back.