Al Forno: Baking With Buon Gusto in Providence

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Italian Restaurant Providence

It was a Friday night, so we expected a two-hour wait, at least. That’s how popular Al Forno has become. Incredibly, the hostess sat us right away. We even scored a prime seat on the enclosed porch, with vines and white lights snaking across the window.

Johanne Killeen and George Germon opened Al Forno on the Providence River on January 2, 1980, a year before getting married. Germon, who taught architecture in town at RISD, designed the restaurant, utilizing plenty of brick. Al forno means “oven-baked” in Italian.

Pizza Providence
The grilled pizza with prosciutto di Parma was unique, in the shape of a painter’s pallet, and possibly the premier pie of my life. The pizza incorporated perfectly balanced tomato sauce, a light dusting of Parmiagiano-Reggiano, some shaved scallions, all on top of a thin and crisp but supple crust. Phenomenal.

Italian Food Providence
Clams Al Forno were nearly as devastating as the pizza, served in a tomato sauce spiked with red pepper. I dipped some fresh-baked focaccia in the luscious tomato broth.

Italian Food Providence
Our entrée, a citrus and honey glazed lamb loin chop, was accompanied by grape, toasted nut and orange peel couscous. Even though the exterior of the lamb was delicious, the interior was seriously undercooked, almost bloody. The couscous, though, was remarkable, prepared with incredible olive oil, an absolute revelation. I didn’t know how the cooked purple grapes would work, but they were great.

Italian Food Providence
All desserts were made to order. At $19, the strawberry-rhubarb tart was steep, but worth twice the price. The large tart had a perfect crust, flaky and moist, not too heavy, filled with sweet ripe strawberries and chunks of rhubarb.

Al Forno was outstanding. If it weren’t for the lamb, I’d put this meal up with any I’ve eaten.

Al Forno: Baking With Buon Gusto in Providence


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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