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NY/NJ Weekend: Bread and Cookies from Il Forno in Montclair

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NY/NJ Weekend: Bread and Cookies from Il Forno in Montclair

Melanie Wong | Jul 16, 2003 05:55 AM

On Saturday I attended a wine tasting hosted by friends in Montclair, NJ. The usual couple baskets of bread were on the table as palate cleansers. But after a bite of a slice of a ciabatta-style loaf, I noticed that this was far from usual bread. Or at least not that I’d experienced locally before.

Yeah, yeah, we San Franciscans can be snobby about our bakers and artisanal breads. Acme’s ciabatta is my personal standard, followed closely by Il Fornaio’s. Everyone else’s seems doomed to rubbery crust, overly dry crumb, and lack of flavor development. So, I was surprised to find a worthy contender here.

At the first bite the crust has a tender crispness that gives way to a firmer chewiness. The crumb is irregular in texture and airy yet suitably moist. The bread has more yeasty flavor development and a touch more salt. Later that evening I tried the ciabatta from Sullivan Bakery (purchased at Zabars) and still preferred Il Forno’s.

My hostess was pleased that I’d noticed the difference. She said that they’re lucky to have such a good local bakery within walking distance of home. After the tasting, we had some cookies from Il Forno for dessert (shown below). The pastry of the small turnovers was a little too tough. But the fresh apricot and raspberry preserve fillings were so good, I didn’t care. The star though was the almond macaroon. Studded with pignoli, these had a perfect balance of almond flavor with sweetness, and chewy with crisp.

Massimo & AnneMarie Ranni, Proprietors
Il Forno
199 Bellevue Ave.
Upper Montclair, NJ
973-744-2665

18 So. Fullerton Ave.
Montclair, NJ
973-233-0800

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