Il Fornaio Restaurant Review
Posted by Foodnut.com
Il Fornaio (The Baker in Italian) is an Italian restaurant serving “creatively prepared, premium-quality Italian cuisine based on authentic regional Italian recipes.” They have 21 locations, many in California. They have been around since 1972, initially starting as a baking school.
The decor was modern Italian style architecture and decorations. The place was pretty busy and full of families, birthday celebrations, and many other large parties. Our last visit was in March 2012. Il Forniao is one of those restaurants where you really need to order the right item.
We visited the Burlingame, California Il Fornaio location. They have a standard menu and a daily additional specialties menu. They have special weeks where food is from particular parts of Italy.
They also have a their legendary bakery up front.
Il Fornaio Menu pics:
Yes, the bread is real good. Various kinds and olive oil and vinegar for dipping. On our visit in 2012, we only received two different types of bread.
Mojito was not very tall but better than average.
Linguine Mare Chiaro ($19.95) Thin flat pasta with clams, mussels, prawns and scallops; seasoned with tomatoes, crushed red pepper, garlic and trebbiano wine was very good. Pasta well cooked. Ingredients were fresh. Dish could have been hotter though.
Pasta alla Castellana Rigatoni pasta tossed with pork tenderloin, bacon, shiitake mushrooms, Parmigiano, brandy, cream and fresh thyme ($17.99) was an excellent pasta with a not too creamy sauce and lots of meat and mushrooms. They definitely know how to make pasta here. Two week special during Trentino Festival.
Tagliata Chianina ($26.99) Beef tenderloin grilled rare and sliced, balsamic vinegar and green peppercorn sauce; served with sautéed organic spinach and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes. A small but tender steak with sauce that was far too sweet.
Affogato Al Caffè ($5.95) Dessert. Espresso poured over two scoops of vanilla gelato and topped with fresh whipped cream was great. Hard to botch. The espresso was poured tableside and takes a while to trickle down.
Carpaccio ($9.95) Thinly sliced raw beef, shaved grana, capers and wild arugula drizzled with lemon-olive oil was a good dish. Lots of cheese and arugula, could have been more meat. Olive oil was not distinctive.
Pizza Piccolo ($6.95 Kids) – Pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese was ok. The crust was almost like uniform flatbred. Edge weren’t crispy at all.
Pizza Margherita ($12.99) Mozzarella, tomato sauce, oregano, fresh basil was average with a soft crust but solid cheese.
Penne In Bolognese ($5.95 Kids) – Pasta tubes with Parmesan cheese and meat sauce was good. Good flavor, lots of meat sauce, perfect for kids.
Glass of Chardonnay ($8) Was really good and surprisingly reasonable in price.
La Tempesta ($9.95) cocktail with Ten cane rum, fresh orange, fresh lime, pineapple and passion fruit puree was very fruity and a little strong.
Pollo Toscano ($17.95) Rotisserie chicken seasoned with rosemary; served with sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes had chicken that was too dry and only lukewarm. Flavor of the chicken was ok. Real skimpy with 3 pieces of broccoli
The service at Il Fornaio on our 2008 visit, was horrendous, probably due to a lazy waiter. He forgot an appetizer, wine, knives, pepper and several other things. He didn’t even bother to show the dessert cart, while other were showing it. The service in 2012 was a lot more reasonable, but the busboys were too aggressive in taking our plates.
The prices are inline with restaurants of this genre, there were not hot deals..
Some of the food was good, other dishes weren’t that great. Pasta is definitely their strong suit. You can get better Italian at similar prices from places like A16, Incanto, Delfina, and Perbacco. Locally, we would suggest you check out Osteria Coppa or Donata Enoteca. This place exhibited characteristics like a chain, and not a chef owned restaurant.
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