Las night some favorite folks and I had reason to celebrate, and the man of the hour chose Il Forno - a cozy Italian joint in zee-west side. Here is my assessment:
Place: Il Forna, Sunda, 6/18 - 8:30 PM
Myself + 5 guests
Ratings and descriptions:
Ambiance - B-
Does a great job of integrating an indoor + outdoor vibe, with an open kitchen and a warm atmosphere.
Service - A-
Though not *quite* top-of-the-line-gourmet service, they were REALLY on the ball. Fast and friendly - we never had to ask for drink refills, and things flowed perfectly.
Food (Taste) - B
A mixture of really good and so-so dishes; but when they're good - heck yes, it's a home run. Plus, all the pastas are fresh, which is a mega-bonus.
Food (Presentation) - B-
No additional flair.
Wine/Drinks - B-
A so-so wine list, but all reasonably priced.
Value - B+
Not on the expensive side at all, and high enough quality that you do feel like it's a bargain.
Overall Experience - B
A truly special little neighborhood gem. I'd definitely go again.
Just sodas and teas for our non-drinkin' crew.
Course 1 (Bread):
An area where Il Forno excels - while the bread itself is nothing exciting, the tomato/bruschetta mixture is absolutely outstanding. Crazy good garlicy + vinegary flava. Love love love it.
Course 2 (Soup/Salads):
I had a radicchio/romaine blend with pecan slices, balsamic, and a stellar dry aged ricotta - REALLY good.
Others had the house salad, caesar (with anchovies - super good) and minestrone soup (less hearty than expected, but still decent).
Course 3 (Entrees):
I had - Capellini with Scampi, Sauteed Veggies + Tomatoes, Garlic, and Olive Oil -- this was the dud of the evening; texture-wise, it rocked, but a little on the flavorless side, and the shrimp were smaller than I like 'em.
Spinach/Ricotta Ravioli - my best friend swears this is the best ravioli evah. She's 90 pounds soaking wet, and yet those fluffly little devils disappeared in record time.
Rigatoni with Tomato + Meat Sauce - good, not fantastic.
Veal Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce - a special of the eve, this = OUTstanding.
Gnocchi with Pesto + Veggies - homemade pillows of doughy potato goodness, with a really nice sauce.
No dessert - pasta is filling, yo!
Total damage, including tax, for 6 sodas, 3 salads, 1 soup, and 6 entreees - $122 and change. Cheap!
Final word - Il Forno really is a gem; if I lived nearby, it would be a staple. Some of the best service in a non high-end restuarant I've had. And pretty damn tasty to boot.
2901 Ocean Park Ave
Ciao, 'Hounds -