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Comments about Al Forno in Providence?


My wife, daughter and granddaughter are going to Providence, RI on Friday, 11Jul08. Our granddaughter will be spending the weekend at Johnson & Wales for a culinary experience to decide if she wants to enroll in the J & W program.

I suggested that one dining experience could be at Al Forno because of the recommendation of the Wine Spectator which I scanned in a doctor's waiting room, and that of Peter Reinhart in his book, "American Pie."

I would appreciate a critique(s) from anyone who has dined at Al Forno in Providence. I've printed off the menu and other information from the restaurant's website.

Thanks in advance.


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  1. I stopped here for dinner last Thursday night, pre-July 4th Holiday weekend. My advice, get here by 5pm and if you can sit outside on the patio, do it. It was lovely and peaceful and by 6pm we could hear the host telling people the wait for inside and outside was an hour and 45 minutes. This is always the case at this place (I've been coming here for years). I hadn't been here in a long time and I think there prices have gone up (who hasn't lately), but portions are large enough to split so it ends up not being too terrible. My sister and I split a "spicy" marguerita pizza (next time I will order the traditional marguerita as there was too much oil on this pizza and it wasn't very spicy anyway). We split a very large caesar salad and pre-ordered the red currant tart (they ask you to order dessert at the start of the meal as they bake the tarts from scratch). The tart was extremely yummy (the crust is divine)...it is $20, so it is a splurge but large enough for two people to share. Many people split entrees at surrounding tables. Next time, we are ordering a "dirty steak" - their signature steak dish that came to the table next to us with a huge portion of steak and an enourmous mound of mashed potatoes...it looked awesome! I asked the waitress if the menu outside was the same as inside and she said it was the same menu in both places. They have a fountain running outside in the patio and it is nice and shady, so even though it was humid, it was extremely pleasant. I plan to stop here as much as I can on my way through Providence from Boston to CT!

    1. PS - the food here is ALWAYS good and has been for years. I was sad when they closed their Boston branch years ago...but they are very fine cooks and always offer up seasonal specials to take advantage of what is in season at the time in New England. You can;t go wrong ordering the pizza marguerita (grilled pizza and it is extrememly crispy, light and yummy) and the crust on their tarts for dessert are divine.

      1. Al Forno has been living off its reputation for many years now. If you want to bring her for a real foodie experience, try La Laiterie at Wayland Square. One thing I DO really like about Al Forno is having a grilled pizza and a glass of wine on their lovely outdoor patio. I've found if I stray from that, and maybe indulge my hankering for pasta, I'm pissed off. Last time I tried that I ended up with an entree that consisted of about 20 little shells, in a single level.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JaneRI

          I agree with Jane. The pizza is good, but the last time I had something else it was a totally disappointing experience. I would recommend Chez Pascal as a somewhat more refined option than La Laiterie, but both are great.

        2. Al Forno is very good. HOWever, what's in it for me to either forcefeed myself dinner at 5 in the afternoon or wait forever for a table when there are so many superlative restaurants in Providence which take reservations.

          1. Yes there is a wait - but give them your cell phone number, go across the street to the hot club, sit outside, have a cocktail (or a soda for your granddaughter - at that time they should let her in even if she is not 21) and enjoy the beautiful weather. It is still good in its own right. Do start with the pizza. If you have time go to La Laiterie too. They will also take your cell and let you wander.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tabasc

              Have always had great food there, especially the pizzas. I am always put off by all of the things they won't do for you, which is probably why I don't go more often. If you are the type who likes to make substitutions, don't even bother.

            2. Go to the courtyard for pizza and salad (very pretty courtyard) -- or head to Bacaro, almost the same menu (former chef) and you can usually get a table. I won't wait more than 30 minutes for a table -- very few things in life are worth that. (I could cook a very good meal in that time.)

              3 Replies
              1. re: ccferg

                I would not recommend bacaro as there are just too many service issues.....

                I agree with most of the above, pizza/salad, maybe a baked pasta, bottle of wine, and dessert at the bar or on the deck is still a classic providence evening.

                1. re: 02903

                  Friends went to Bacaro for a retirement dinner 2 weeks ago, I think 8 or 10 people? I was told everyone hated it. The food as well as the service.

                  1. re: 02903

                    the great food at bacaro keeps me coming back every 6 months or so, just in case, but still the absolute worst service (training, attitude, knowledge of menu, coordination) in the city. stick with alforno. still among the very best in the area.

                2. I was at Al Forno a few weeks ago, and there was an insert in their menu saying they were opening a small "tapas" style restaurant in downtown providence in the coming weeks....does anyone know anything about this? Has it opened yet?

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: catsrus9

                    I think it's near Gracie's...I did read something about it in the past month or so. Projo.com? Providence Monthly? I can't recall.

                    1. re: JaneRI

                      Tiny place,between Gracie's and Bravo. Haven't heard an opening date.

                      1. re: JaneRI

                        I had read initially -- maybe 6 months ago -- that it was going to have one large communal table.

                        1. re: ccferg

                          Planning to drive to Privudence this week. Any news on this smaller endeavor by the Al Forno owners?

                          1. re: hopegoode

                            From what we were told the date is sometime in September.

                            1. re: jandj

                              Will be in Providence on October 11th... any further updates on the tapas place by the Al Forno owners?

                              1. re: tapas gal

                                I hadn't heard it was going to be tapas. I heard it would be a communal table place, but with full dinners. I'm curious, though, what the latest word is on it.