Il Fornaio – Always Something New

| November 3, 2011 | 0 Comments

There’s always something new coming out of the kitchens of Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana. Some restaurants never change their menus, some add or remove dishes from time to time. Il Fornaio brings out a whole new menu every month to tempt its legions of happy diners. Every one of the 20 restaurant locations participates every month in a Festa Regionale, an exploration of the culinary delights of one of the regions of Italy.

Il Fornaio began in Italy as a baking company school and, later, opened a small neighborhood bakery. The concept was brought to American by Williams-Sonoma, the retail kitchen equipment chain. Over the past 34 years, the company has morphed into a large, successful multi-unit operation that went public and was listed on NASDAQ but was bought back by management. By 2000, the company’s sales exceeded $125 million.

Each restaurant location is operated by a chef-partner. Most chef-partners are Italian and come from different regions of the country. Il Fornaio takes advantage of this diversity by allowing each of them a month to create and feature special regional menus, the Festa Regionale.

The Piemonte region is featured November 7 – 20. This section of Italy is in the top northwest, bordering France and Switzerland. The city of Turin, famous for its historic shroud, is located in Piemonte. The topography includes hilly regions that produce great red wines like Barolo and Barbaresco. Fruits, cereals, and cattle production are the major agricultural products. The area is famous for its use of truffles, its rice and polenta.

The native ingredients are featured on the special Piemonte menu, created by Carlo Ochetti, who was born in the region. Zuppa di Patate Porcini e Porri, a soup appetizer with potato and leeks, is accented with truffle oil. Polenta Cunsa, polenta is baked with fontina cheese.

The featured entrees include Medaglioni di Vitello ai Funghi Porcini e Tartufo, veal medallions with roasted garlic, porcini mushrooms, white wine and white truffle oil. The seafood recommendation is Filetto di Branzino all’Uva, wild striped seabass filets sautéed with green grapes, thyme and champagne vinegar.

The regular menu at Il Fornaio is wonderful assembly of antipasti, pasta, oven baked pizza and specialties. One of my favorite dishes is the Pollo Toscano, delicious free-range rotisserie chicken that is affordably priced at $18.99.

There are two Il Fornaio restaurants locations in our city. The one located in Del Mar sits on the top level of Del Mar Plaza and offers a gorgeous ocean view. I’ve been there at sunset, when the patio was filled with patrons who applauded as they looked for the “green flash” of the descending sun’s bounce on the horizon. They were so impressed by the sheer beauty of the setting.

The other Il Fornaio location is in Coronado, close to the Ferry Terminal. It, and another wonderful restaurant next door, Peohe’s, offer an amazing view of the downtown skyline’s tall buildings that lie across azure waters. Here, as the sun sets, its light reflects off steel towers and glass windows, causing them to sparkle like diamonds. The view is relaxing and, at the same time, very exciting.

The patios of Il Fornaio are amazing places to relax, dine, enjoy great food, and to love life! Prices are wonderfully moderate. An evening there is an affordable rewarding experience. Il Fornaio Del Mar is located at 1555 Camino Del Mar. Call 858.755.8876 for reservations. Il Fornaio Coronado is located at 1333 First Street, next to the Coronado Ferry Terminal. Call 619.437.4911 for reservations.

Tags: , ,

Category: Entertainment

About the Author ()