There’s a passion for food – and for authenticity – that’s evident in all Il Forno does. Yes, it’s a theatrical place, with a huge open-jawed God doubling as a wood-fired pizza oven, and flaming torches at streetlevel. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s about the decoration: Il Forno’s all about the food.
In an age of jaw-breaking burgers and messy food it’s reassuring to see that some establishments lavishing some time and attention on their wares. Pizza dough that takes two days to prove; Italian gelato prepared in the traditional way; meats and olive oil direct from small suppliers in the homeland. Make sure you check out the brunch menu (see below) for the best way to sample a variety of these treats.
Despite outward appearances – impeccable steel, glass and marble interiors and that giant pizza oven that looks like it was requisitioned from an Indiana Jones movie – the restaurant approach to its food is shot through with authenticity, with examples of this approach evident everywhere.
Il Forno sources all of its Frantoio Biscione extra virgin olive oil from an independent producer in Cancellara, Potenza. This small Italian town is also the home of Il Forno’s head chef, so it’s safe to say he knows his onions – he is the only international customer of the small producer.
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Il Forno has a new brunch menu Friday-Sunday with three dishes and unlimited prosecco (or wine) for £25. Plates range from bruschetta with tomatoes, pasta bowls and parmigiana to more exotic fare such as chicken livers with Marsala and raisins to ox cheek risotto with veal jus. We can recommend all said dishes – particularly the chicken livers and parmigiana. But what always set @ilfornoliverpool apart was it’s authenticity. Perhaps the star dish was a simple pasta bowl with hearty, fiery Arabbiata and al dente pasta. Good ingredients, cooked well. It’s a strong proposition.
All of Il Forno’s meats are sourced from Italy. The village of Bedogni Egidio, slap bang in the Parma region, supplies meats and cheeses direct. 50kg of Parma ham, bresaola, salami, speck and mortadella head to Liverpool every fortnight before an appointment with Il Forno’s meat slicer, dispensing wafer-thin morsels of intense antipasti.
With traditional ice-cream made on the premises by a gelato master and cakes from nearby P&D’s deli, there’s indulgent treats like Pizza Nutella and tiramisu to delicate pannacotta. The gelateria combined ice-creams with fruit, sauces and nuts to create delights such as Coppa Amarena – crushed amaretto soaked in port with black cherries and vanilla ice-cream.
It might be a bit stiff in a time of dirty food, and it’s not quite fine dining, but Il Forno is a good bet for authentic Italian food where you can be sure of the provenance.
Il Forno132 Duke Street,