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Figs lend a subtle sweetness to pizza, ice cream, beer and more

Menomale’s Ficocella pizza special is topped with mozzarella, marinated cherry tomatoes, 18-month-aged prosciutto, basil and fresh figs tossed in honey. (Jason Hornick/for Express)
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Figs are the Meryl Streep of the culinary world: They’re versatile, adaptable and sweet without being saccharine. “As a chef, you look for balance so you don’t get sick of a dish, like you get sick of frosting on a cake,” says Ryan Westover, the pastry chef at 1789 who is currently serving shortbread with the fruit bruleed and in jam form. “You try to create different textures and flavors, and figs do that.” As the end of fig season nears, we look at novel ways D.C. chefs are employing the do-it-all fruit.

On pizza
Menomale, 2711 12th St. NE
At this Brookland pizzeria, owners Ettore and Mariya Rusciano serve blistery Neapolitan-style pies made with simple but high-quality ingredients. Their new Ficocella pizza special, above, is topped with mozzarella, marinated cherry tomatoes, 18-month-aged prosciutto, basil and fresh figs tossed in honey ($16). “It’s for lovers of savory and sweet,” says Ettore, who drizzles olive oil on the pie before baking it in a 900-degree wood-burning oven. “It gives it a crispy finish,” Mariya says.

In ice cream
Ice Cream Jubilee, 301 Water St. SE
Owner Victoria Lai blends pureed figs, port wine and a hint of goat cheese into this slightly savory ice cream flavor, debuting today ($3-$5.95). There are 6 gallons available, which should last about two weeks. “We thought about calling it Billy Goat, but in the end decided to just go with Fig and Port,” Lai says. “Those are the primary flavors.”

In BBQ sauce
Smoke and Barrel, 2471 18th St. NW
Executive chef Logan McGear recently concocted a limited-edition chipotle, bourbon and fig BBQ sauce, which he’s serving atop pulled pork through the weekend ($13). McGear soaks figs in bourbon, sautes them with onions and blends the mixture with his chipotle BBQ sauce. It’s then put in the smoker for an hour.

In a cocktail
Bar Dupont, 1500 New Hampshire Ave. NW
“I don’t want to say it reminds me of my childhood, because  alcohol and children don’t go together,” bar director Jonathan Yeronick says of his fig Old Fashioned ($13). But because he likens it to a Fig Newton, the cocktail —  made with muddled figs, balsamic vinegar, simple syrup, orange juice and Maker’s Mark bourbon ­— gets him feeling nostalgic.

In beer
Bluejacket Brewery, 300 Tingey St. SE
Bluejacket’s fig-laced Figure 8 beer was on the brewery’s debut draft list when it opened last year. Beer director Greg Engert reserved a portion of that batch and has been aging it in Old Scout bourbon barrels. After nine months, it’s finally ready to serve. “You get hints of toasted coconut, and the bourbon amplifies the flavor of the spice and figs,” Engert says of the brew. Beginning tonight, the barrel-aged version will be available by the glass, and Engert plans to serve the remainder throughout the fall ($9).

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