Il Forno is on the corner of Five Forks and Oak Road, just a block from the Five Forks – Ronald Reagan intersection. It used to be part of a chain, but was bought out by local ownership. I had eaten there a lot when it was part of the chain, but almost never since. When it was a chain, it delivered a surprisingly good pizza pie for a Southern corner shop. And I had been growing increasingly curious if the new ownership had found out how to consistently make a good crust.
The inside of the restaurant is attractive. The countertop is a steel surface and the chairs and tables are nice. There aren’t very many of them. I counted 7 tables inside. They do have outside seating, however, and when the weather is mild they can handle more people. The waitress and the cooks (visible as you sit) were all wearing I Love New York shirts and/or hats. A black T shirt was the uniform of choice.
I looked for something with pepperoni and some Italian sausage, and the only thing on the menu that fit was the Cardiology special. I ordered a 12″ pie and a beer. The on-tap beer selection is quite good if you’re into the heavier ales: Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Pilsner Urquell, Brooklyn Ale, etc. The pie took a little time, and I was on my second beer when it arrived.
It’s a thin crust pizza, and given the lightness of the crust, it had a respectable set of toppings on it. I could see that the crust was browned on the edges, but the take home lesson would be in the center of the pie. I’ve spent a couple years in the Northeast, and the one thing you can count on in a Pennsylvania or New York pie is a crispy crust. And in a joint claiming a New York heritage, don’t even bother if the crust isn’t good.
I pulled out a slice, took a bite. It was crisp from tip to tail. In all honesty I was a bit relieved. You always hope a place this nice looking will put up food to match its looks and it did. Now I will warn people that the thin crust doesn’t stay crispy terribly long. In my estimation this is a pie to be eaten on the premises, and not taken home. Before I was finished the toppings were steaming the crust in the middle and the interior inch or two had lost its crispiness. Of course, there was just one of me and a 12″ pie to navigate. Served to 2 or 3 people, this pie would be just fine.
I didn’t order salads or calzones as I was there, but I saw them made and pass by. The calzones are simply enormous. The salads looked good, but they also looked a lot like they were assembled from precut pizza toppings.
The base (sauce and cheese) 12″ pizza runs about $11.00. The 16″ runs about $12.50. Toppings run from a dollar each to $3.00 for chicken. Named pizzas range from $13-$17 in the 12″ size and $14-$20 in the 16″ size. Pasta dishes run from $8.00 to $14.00, but most under $11.00. Calzones and Strombolis range from $6-$9.