I was in Reston over the weekend and tried Il Fornaio. I didn't have great expectations, but was pleasantly impressed. The bread was excellent. A chicken entree was perfectly cooked, nice size and lots of flavor. My companion had a pasta dish that he said was very good. I'm not a big fan of tarimsu, but on the waitresses recommendation, that was our dessert. It was one of the best I've had. Service was attentive, but not very personable. If I lived closer, I'd definitely go back.
I've NEVER had any problem with the taste or quality of food in any of their restaurants. Their pizzas are wonderful and they do have some unique dishes. I really, really miss the fresh bakery and sandwich shop they have in their San Francisco location. They made great sandwiches and pastries. 99% of the time everything is very fresh. I am not sure about some of the fish however that is on the standard menu. The calamari smelled awful the two or three times people near me ate it.
I do think they suffer from the same poor service that is all too common in this NoVa area. I'm not sure I can remember anywhere in the US or globally where the quality of service from waiters and bar staff is so dreadfully poor at so many restaurants. Most likely the worst.
We went two weeks ago. The carpaciao of beef was fine, even good. But my fish was old -- not bad old, just old. True, though, that you need to give any place a few months to get the bugs out. It is a nice physical plant, pleasant interior, and the concept does work in other locations. I just will normally opt to support local, independent restaurants when I can -- seems to me a civic duty, somehow, but I was raised working in independent restaurants, so that has no small amount to do with it.
I used to eat at the Il Fornaio in San Fran on a regular basis (100+ times) from 96-01. I also ate at the one in San Jose, Burlingame and the New York, New York Casino in Las Vegas.
I've enjoyed their food greatly and thought this would be the same quality and service but so far it is a HUGE disappointment. I've been there three times and each time a problem. They are having a big problem delivering food that is hot. Everything seems to sit in the back and then served cold. I heard several other diners suffering the same misfortune. They also seem to have a problem figuring out who ordered what. Waiters are putting your plates on other peoples tables and vice-versa. I think the staff is not seasoned staff and many don't speak English well.
The entrees I have had, although tasty, have been very small in size and look like an appetizer platter. The fish, especially the Calamari smells fishy, not fresh.
They don't have a bakery like San Fran but their bread is fantastic.
Service is fair but hopefully will get better.
I think they need to work out the kinks and the crowd that remains over the next 3-4 months will dictate if they improve.
I'm in no hurry to go back eventhough they are within walking distance for me.
I would wait a month or so before you try it for the first time.