The tabletops are done in marble, reflecting the family business in Mexico, and they are gorgeous. The place has a light and breezy air to it, and both the owners are the types who will stop by and share a glass of wine if you’re amenable.
On our first visit we tried the baked bread (pane caldo) the chef brought out with either olive oil or marinara sauce for dipping. It was a textural marvel, and delicious as well.
Then we feasted on a Toscana salad which featured baby spinach, fresh tomatoes, almonds and a light Italian vinaigrette. This salad was delicate as it was delicious. Totally a keeper.
We tried several pizzas, and they immediately got our attention. The Panadina was their version of the meat lovers pie, but with much more nuance. The peppers, ham, and housemade beef sausage was a treat as was the pomodoro, the mozzarella and the chef’s stunning crust. Cesar suggested we roll the slice up like a taco and eat it that way. Worked for me. But I suspect it would have been delightful anyway you held it.
The Valdostana was another great pie. The was simple with mozzarella, speck, taleggio (an ancient Roman soft cheese) and walnuts. Man, I love the chef. He is from Naples and the guys knows how to make pizza. These were two great examples (and Pizza Wars XIII is just around the corner.)
On our next visit we tried the most enjoyable caprese salad that we’ve had in ages. The bufala mozzarella was from Naples, and it was amazing. Tasted like a burrata, but it wasn’t: just sensationally moist with old earth flavors. The vine ripened tomatoes and the e.v.o.o with just a hint of balsamic vinegar completed the dish. And it was spectacular.
We followed that with the chef’s Linguine and Meatballs. This is not a dish I usually order, but Cesar recommended it. And what a recommendation it proved to be. The linguine was perfectly aldente, the meatballs were moist and savory, and the sauce blended the two items together in a beautifully seamless way. Bravo
We had a bottle of Vecciano which is a blend of cab, merlot and sangiovese. The 2011 was totally drinkable with notes of elderberry and chocolate. It just couldn’t have gotten any better.
Il Forte is a family restaurant that makes you feel at home, like you’re a part of their family. I predict big things from this place. I also predict they will never lose their charm. Cesar and Granada simply wouldn’t allow that to occur.