A tasty stopover in Providence...
Heading back to New York from a trip to Boston we were determined to visit Al Forno in Providence, RI, where chef-owners Johanne Killeen and George Germon have been operating their legendary restaurant since 1980. The rules were set, there are rules here for sure...doors open at 4 p.m....they do not take reservations for two people...we got there by 3:30 p.m. anxious to be among the first to get a table. It was a Saturday after all...It was our first time so we surveyed the immediate territory while waiting...the 3 giant smokestacks and old factorys along the river in for foreground...what an unusual yet dramatic scene, we thought. Like a bank, the doors facing the parking lot opened at exactly 4 p.m....we did turn out to be the first to enter the dining room...got a lovely table on the second level just as the sun was beginning to go down...our hostess Marie and our server Sarah could not have been nicer...explaining everything, even agreeing to a tour thru the kitchen downstairs prior to the start of the busy period. Chef de cuisine David Reynoso showed us around the well kempt kitchen...it looked as if there were about 20 in the crew ready to charge up the fires along with a long row of neatly donned waitstaff...Thanks for letting us into the inner sanctom...It was indeed thrilling! Now let the ordering begin: this is one restaurant where you have to order your dessert in advance since they are prepared at the moment, sometimes for two or more. It takes a certain mindset but we did: a special of the evening, Banana Tart with Creme Fraiche...we went on to our appetizers: Stuffed Date Salad and Bibb Salad for starters...opted for the skewer of Sea Scallops and the special Trio of Suckling Pig for main courses. The result...A wonderful meal all in all, infused with flavor and freshness. I am now addicted to those dates stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in bacon, then wood-oven roasted...the salads were to our palates...perfect...the scallops plump, sweet and delicious...I had a lovely half bottle of 2004 Clos du Bois merlot to complement the repast...as for the dessert: my partner, a trained chef and big banana cream pie lover, deemed it one of the best banana desserts ever!!! Only rub: the trio of suckling pig, the chop, the ham slices, the cubed bacon...to our taste the skin could have been crisped a bit more, a bit too chewy...perhaps not to another pork aficionado though. And you know...as evening fell, looking out of those windows onto the 3 smokestacks, the glistening cherry lights hugging the building...the hearth at the other end of the dining room...it all made sense, the atmosphere, the bouquet from the woodburning ovens, the hearty platters of food and all...We'll be back sometime in the near future. Thanks all...thanks very much!!
Any chowhounds visited Al Forno lately...what do you think of my observations?
wonderful writeup, gutreactions
think you'll find that alforno prompts few neutral opinions. for me, droppin in offhours during a weeknight for a pizza is still one of life's great treats - and for our out-of-town foodie guests, it's always our first stop.
just a theory, but (like the recently closed garrison's confections) it seems to be better appreciated by out-of-staters.
re: im hungry
Don't think so, the poster has also made a lenghty report on Boston dining. To reply to the OP, Al forno is our dining destination of choice when we are in Providence. We adore the Pizzas and desserts and were fans of Chef David Renynoso's when he was in the kitchen at Cafe Louis, B&G Oysters and the Butcher Shop in Boston.
We took a beef loving friend there recently for the dirty steak and she delcared it the best piece of meat she has had in ages and is looking forward to a return trip to Providence with her husband to enjoy it again.