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Ready, set, Figo 

Figo Pasta is the epitome of a cheap eat

Get your bottle of red ready to go -- Figo Pasta doesn't have a wine list. It also doesn't have tables. The place doesn't even have a restroom. What Figo does have is great pasta at low prices. Owners Sandro Romagnoli and chef Mirko di Giacomantonio quietly opened their restaurant -- patterned after Italian pasta frescas -- earlier this summer. And although it's in a less-than-desirable area of Buckhead near the corner of Collier Road and DeFoors Ferry, word has spread. Patrons continue to line up while machines busily spit out strips of fresh fettuccini and twists of fusilli.

COUNTER-CULTURE: Less than a dozen black stools line the edges of the front dining area, transforming the small space into a social melting pot. But beware: When it gets crammed on a weekend night, you may wish you'd gotten your pasta to go.

MIX AND MATCH: The eater-friendly routine goes like this: Choose a pasta from one column ($3-$5), then choose a sauce ($2-$3). Thirteen different pastas -- five varieties of ravioli, five short pastas and three long pastas -- are paired with nine sauces. That's 117 possibilities for mixing and matching, not counting daily specials.

START AND STOP: Bread comes with your meal, but it's hard to pass up the bruschetta ($3). An order gets you two crispy, toasted slices of bread drizzled in olive oil and piled with chopped tomatoes, basil and garlic. To finish it all off, there's tiramisu ($4) and cioccolato freddo ($4).

PASS THE PASTA: Although the rigatoni, fusilli, penne and other pastas are all fresh and first-rate, the real winner is the ravioli. Go simple and fresh: ricotta cheese and spinach-stuffed ravioli ($4) paired with the checca sauce ($3) -- a combo of chopped tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and basil. Wild mushroom ravioli ($4) paired with funghi (mushroom) sauce ($3) is a doubly rich, earthy plate of sauteed mushrooms in a luscious, velvety sauce. The four-cheese ravioli ($3) is satisfyingly paired with the Siciliana ($3) -- chunky, basil-heavy tomato sauce packed with eggplant and creamy mozzarella and topped with ricotta.

DAILY SPECIAL: When it's difficult to choose, go for a special. The star is the perennial butternut squash ravioli ($9). It's been on the menu regularly -- and for good reason. The rich, orange-centered ravioli is submerged in a pool of even richer Mascarpone cream sauce; the slight bitterness from the purple radicchio combines with the sweet, silkiness of the squash for an offbeat taste. Another star: the twisted gemelli pasta served alla carbonara ($7) in a creamy Parmesan-and-egg sauce with hunks of salty pancetta (Italian bacon). For something with kick, try the tri-color penne in a puttanesca ($7) sauce, packed with black olives, capers, onions, diced tomatoes and garlic slivers. I'll be a whore for that any day.

jerry.portwood@creativeloafing.com

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