Longstanding Figs Grille in Bonita Springs has been busier than ever, despite the pandemic, thanks to the dedication of owner and chef Sam Tadros, a veteran of the Southwest Florida dining scene.
Tadros is a master of reinvention. After leaving Egypt at age 27, where he worked as an accountant, he emigrated to the United States and washed dishes while learning English. Later, he opened several restaurants in the area, including Sam-Bucco Bistro, which he sold in 2011.
Tadros’ 10-week exploration of Europe provided the inspiration for Figs.
“Our food is Italian-Mediterranean, but in the beginning, everyone thought it was Middle Eastern. In addition to Italy, we have dishes from Turkey, Lebanon, and Morocco. We borrow from many different cultures,” he explains.
One of his best-selling entrées is lamb tagine, a classic Moroccan stew baked in an earthenware pot and served with vegetables, chickpeas, and basmati rice. Tagines of chicken and seafood are also available, along with kebobs, pastas, and veal dishes. He’s fastidious about fish, offering corvina and ahi tuna on the menu as well as daily specials of fresh market catch.
Tadros chooses all the wines he serves with an emphasis on “what the customer needs and wants.” The list is well-rounded and carefully selected, balancing the best of California with selections from Italy, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. That customer-centered ethos is the focus of the restaurant. His wife, Estella, manages the dining room, and the two enjoy interacting with their guests, many of whom are regulars.
Tadros is grateful for the way his journey has turned out. “In Egypt, you’re stuck working in the same place all your life,” he says. “Here, you can be what you want to be. Everyone loves the American dream.”