Il Fornaio, Palo Alto

I find Il Fornaio a hit-and-miss place. Despite their large success in terms of clientèle, I am not always persuaded I am having an Italian experience. There are many compromises Il Fornaio had to take in order to get t its great success, and some of those are not too pleasant for someone looking for an original, honest meal. That said, I might end up at Il Fornaio maybe a few times in a year, because they make two things I am completely crazy about: the calzone and the zabaione dessert!

Calzone is a pizza folded in half before cooking, and stuffed with all sort of goodies: ham, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and sometimes ricotta and different other ingredients. The one that Il Fornaio make is actually better than their typical pizza- alas, on our visit both were served with parmesan on top, a thing that you never see in Italy.

The second reason that gets me to book a table at Il Fornaio is their Zabaione alla Gritti. I don’t think this dessert has anything Italian at all, beside the zabaione, a sweet liquid custard made of eggs, sugar and a touch of Marsala wine. We remember having it as children as our afternoon snack, when mother would whisk it and give it to us with a cookie! Nowadays almost all places served it cooked over a double boiler, to avoid food-born illnesses, but it still preserves the flavor of childhood in my mind! I rarely find it on menus, so this is a total treat- chilled zabaione with fresh berries, Bellini sorbet, fresh whipped cream and amarena cherry. Yummi!

Il Fornaio Palo Alto
520 Cowper Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301

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