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Quogue, New York
January 29, 2005
We found it quite by accident. Having passed it during our long afternoon walk, we had commented on the expanse of windows and how spectacular the view would be in the evening. It overlooks the bay and skyline beyond. We were planning on an exciting Friday night in Gastown but were drained of energy following our day of sightseeing. A quiet walk along the harbor with the full moon shining seemed more appropriate at the time.
Il Fornaio was not disappointing in any way--an attractive contemporary design of cement with Roman columns and lots of windows, it exudes California casual elegance. A small bar and a counter selling take-out Italian cookies, bread, creative baskets, and gift certificates surround the foyer.
A spotless stainless open kitchen with wood-burning ovens and a rotisserie line the back wall of the restaurant. Chefs dressed in white expertly toss pasta and pizza while others are tending the rotisserie and grills. The middle part of the open dining room is set up for larger groups, with long tables. The two end sections are smaller tables and booths--lots of energy in this restaurant.
We chose to enjoy the evening on the small patio--there were only about 10 wrought-iron tables with marble tops. Market umbrellas and a roaring fire in the outdoor fireplace enhanced the atmosphere of the already romantic night with stars and full moon. Overhead heaters took the slight chill out of the air, and outdoor speakers added some background music.
The food--there were so many choices!! We started with designer martinis and a basket of warm, crunchy Italian bread and sticks to dip in olive oil. Now, the choices: Maine lobster over risotto, osso bucco, veal saltimbocca, whole snapper, prawns and scallops over pasta, pizzas, salads, etc. Rosemary rotisserie chicken was so flavorful, plated with "real" mashed potatoes, green beans, and whole baby carrots. The house-made ravioli filled with Maine lobster, topped with shrimp and lobster sauce, were superb.
Desserts are presented on a cart. Each and every one is appealing--our accolades go to the chocolate sponge cake soaked in triple sec, topped with chocolate mousse and rolled in chocolate shavings. Time for a walk back to the hotel. This restaurant was a definite "I'll be back again" experience.
It is a chain or franchise--www.ilfornaio.com. I hope they're all as superb.
From journal Cruising Mexico on Celebrity's Mercury
June 30, 2003
Hint: If you don't see something on the menu, ask if they can modify a dish...e.g. I was really looking for a white cream sauce, but there were none on the menu that night...I asked, and they modified one of the red dishes to my taste...
From journal Weekend on Coronado "Island"