1954 Avenue Rd.
I visited Il Fornaro midtown this past January for the first time. Here’s my take on the dining experience.
I book for 3 on a late Friday night for Winterlicious dinner and am surprised to find that it’s nice and quiet — I’m used to bigger crowds for Winterlicious. The fact that it was a very cold night and that the restaurant is in an area where those without a car would have to take the bus and/or walk a bit might have contributed to the thinner crowd.
It’s by no means a large restaurant, but the atmosphere of the interior, with its archway, softly-lit columns and dark furniture, more than makes up for it. The impeccably dressed and friendly staff add bonus points to the dining experience.
The Winterlicious menu this year is full of interesting pastas and meat dishes, many of which you can find similar alternatives to on their regular menu.
They lay out this roasted flat-bread as we wait for our order. It’s warm and crispy on the outside, nice and doughy on the inside.
For starters, I pick the Soup of the Day. I didn’t get the exact name of the soup, but it’s savoury and creamy — perfect to ward away the winter chills. And it goes well with the complimentary pre-meal bread!
The main dish?
Veal Fornaro, Veal scallopine in wine garlic and rich porcini cream sauce, served with potato and vegetables.
I’m not a drinker, and not very sensitive to alcohol used in cooking (because I’m not sure what they’re supposed to taste like), but I definitely tasted the wine in this sauce! It’s definitely an interesting sauce. I loved that there was enough of it to soak the mushrooms and dip the potatoes in!
Serving size is on the smaller side for my personal taste with a just a few thin slices of veal and mushrooms. But most Winterlicious meals tend to be smaller to account for the lower prices they offer to customers. I’m sure the full-price meal will be a bigger portion.
For dessert I order the Mini Cream Puff.
And the table laughs a little, because they look exactly like the little cream puffs we used to buy in bulk at the local Costco when we were little. They’re dressed up with a little drizzle of chocolate sauce, but to be honest, I can’t really tell a big difference between these and the store-bought ones. A bit of a disappointment because I’m hoping for something I haven’t tried before, but still nice and cool and creamy.
This is the dessert one of my table-mates orders. There’s no description on the menu but Google tells me that tartuffo (or tartufo) is an Italian ice-cream dessert composed of two or more flavors of ice cream — that would be chocolate on the outside and what tastes like raspberry sorbet on the inside. The layer of cocoa powder covering it was the perfect touch of extra sweetness. And yes! This dessert is on their regular menu, and I would go back just for to have this!
All in all, a good restaurant experience. A little disappointment in terms of portion sizes, but that’s to be expected with Winterlicious – and to be fair, the pasta dish my table-mates ordered were decent portions!
*Traveler’s Tip: There’s street parking right outside of the restaurant, and there’s also a Green P parking lot behind the street if that’s full! Not a far walk at all!