Il Fornaio Restaurant Beverly Hills

 Beverly Hills Il Fornaio Restaurant dinner

We know that Christmas may now be just a sweet memory for you as January is well on it’s way, but we just want to share this restaurant experience with you and it would be a great place for a Valentine’s Day dinner too. Each year we are both looking forward to our visit during winter time to Beverly Hills where the palm tree studded Rodeo Drive glitters with lights brighter than the Hollywood stars and luxurious shop windows come alive with opulent window displays and a fabulous Christmas tree greets visitors on Via Rodeo. On top of all these festivities Corina’s birthday is in late December and she decided that we should celebrate with a lovely meal in festive setting so of course Beverly Hills was the perfect choice. We had just been in LA the day before visiting friends, but felt like returning for the holiday lights, even though the drive takes us on an average day (if you are lucky) about 2 1/2 hours each way, but we didn’t really mind and took the scenic route through Malibu.

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After taking the obligatory Holiday photos on Via Rodeo center and along Beverly and Rodeo Drive it was time for dinner and as we made our rounds for the perfect dinner spot, with the mind of trying something new. The multitude of restaurants in the area were decked out with thousands and thousands of lights around cozy window seats filled with happy diners beaconing you to come in for dinner and join in the merry atmosphere. Feeling like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” strolling into shops, oohing and ahhing over designer clothes, and admiring hot sports cars, we kept circulating back to the fabulous corner of Il Fornaio. Over the years, we have been there several times and what can we tell you we “loved every bite”. Corina decided, because it was her Birthday after all, “lets have dinner here at least we know it will be good”.

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Doesn’t this look luxurious? This Dolce Gabbana table setting in the window display made us really hungry.

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Il Fornaio Restaurant Beverly Hills

Il Fornaio is on a fabulous corner with charming outdoor seating perfect for people and celebrity watching. It was a little bit too cold on this day to sit outside.

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The spacious main dining room with beautiful wood paneled ceilings and tall windows is very stylish, yet the tables are set very cozy in the Il Fornaio Restaurant Beverly Hills.

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As we strolled by the second time we noticed an empty window seat and we all got excited that perhaps we do not have to wait long like last time when we were there, which was close to an hour and we were so hungry by the time the waiter guided us to our table that we really did not wish to waste anymore time to peruse the menu and quickly ordered pizza then counted the minutes until arrived. This time it was perfect timing, the hostess told us that seat is available and voila within minutes we settled into the cozy window seat. The restaurant was quite full and with a lively semi-private event in the end of the large room the whole atmosphere transported us back to our many dinners in Italy. The open bar was humming with life as the pizza oven and the rotisserie danced with cheerful flames to ignite your senses.

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Tempting authentic Italian dishes waiting to be explored filled the menu and the warm hospitality made us feel welcome.

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The wine list was fairly short mostly Italian with a few exception and chosen well to marry most dishes. We were in the mood for red wine and ordered a bottle of Italian 2011 Cataldi Madonna Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy. This medium bodied ruby red wine is made from Montepulciano grapes with vibrant black cherry on the nose, a hint of rose and violets, and blueberry, which also carried to the tongue. Let it breathe, have a sweet conversation and the tannins transform into a Hermes scarf. Juicy berry, currant, exotic sandalwood and a touch of English leather and plum also played with the cherry. Agreeable tannins and good acidity with a light tobacco finish. It had notes reminiscent of a Pinot Noir and pairs nicely with pasta and meat dishes. We found it happily accompanied all the dishes we had.

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Even with full house it had a comfortable ambiance with efficient service.

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As it happens to any celebrations the wine flow freely perhaps a little too freely and some of the gorgeous ruby red drops ended up on Corina’s gold Italian leather jacket that she had gotten in Florence. Talk about fatal attractions – red Italian wine and light colored Italian jacket. Right away Rudy, the brilliant manager, came and tried to help and came back with a whole list of ideas of what could be done to remove the wine stains which he acquired from Google. Most of the spots came out after several applications of mineral water. Even the waiter from the next table, Marco who was originally from Italy, was also very helpful. After the whole excitement of the wine spill, we opted to start with an appetizer of Calamaretti Fritti with baby squid and a spicy marinara sauce for around $14 so we can start enjoying the wine. In case you are counting, the calories were right on the menu and this appetizer that was plenty for three had 830 calories, but who is counting today.

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For the main course, Judit had the House Special, Specialita’ Della Casa of Cannelloni al Forno – baked in the oven, delightfully creamy and tender yet delicate. The cheese turned into a glorious cheesy crust. Il Fornaio is famous for their freshly made pasta and this dish was a luxurious indulgence. Fresh pasta tubes filled with free-range rotisserie chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta, pecorino, smoked mozzarella and organic spinach; topped with béchamel, marinara and mushrooms and is $19 for a mere 940 calories. She was debating between this delicious pasta dish and the Linguine Mare Chiaro, a seafood pasta with clams, scallops, mussels, and prawns. The Cannelloni won and you will be delighted to know it was not a disappointment tasting these pasta submarines immersed in a creamy sea of béchamel, it is definitely worth an encore.

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The little pillows of joy that will make your mouth sing are called Cappellacci di Zucca and for $19 is it quite a good serving size.

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Corina devoured the sumptuous Cappellacci di Zucca. Butternut squash ravioli with browned butter, crispy sage, a hint of tomato sauce and Grana Padano cheese. This is one of her favorite ravioli dishes and she really enjoyed the addition of tomato with this ravioli since this type of dish often comes without just the browned butter. The flavors of the ravioli sang an opera with the wine. It came in at 1350 calories, but we don’t really count those.

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Paul eagerly waited for his Brasato al Valpolicella, braised beef shortribs that were so tender they fell off the bone and the soft, creamy polenta made an excellent base, it could had a little more taste. Before ordering we saw this enormous plate resembling Mount Vesuvius heading to several tables so we figured this must be a popular choice. This succulent dish was around $25 and 1330 calories, but who cares when you are in such culinary heaven calories really don’t count.

Even though our waitress had mentioned that Judit’s Cannelloni al Forno is a heavier selection (who cares!) Corina ended up winning the calorie game with Butternut squash ravioli and her consuming most of the crepe and chocolate mousse. We know what we are going to try next time. Rudy thoughtfully brought us each a glass of Super Tuscan wine and a lovely dessert trio that topped off Corina’s birthday dinner. The wine was more robust than our first selection and kept us firmly grounded in Tuscany. The super Tuscan was rich violet red and had open bold spicy cherry notes.

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As usual, for dessert Corina could not make up her mind between something chocoalty or traditional Italian. Rudy brought this indulgent Dolce Trio, which you absolutely must try – tiramisu, chocolate mousse, and crepes ooh la la. This dessert sampler consisted of half of a Rosina al Cioccolato, one delectable Crespelle with vanilla gelato, and half of a Tiramisu. Corina adores chocolate mousse and crepes. Judit coveted the tiramisu. We of course promptly ignored the 950 calories. Rosina al Cioccolato is a chocolate mousse on a triple sec bathed sponge cake with raspberries. Apples and grapa-infused cream fill the crepe for the Crespelle and a scoop of vanilla gelato graces the top. The Triamisu is traditional with rum and espresso soaked lady fingers layered with mascarpone and drizzled with cocoa powder. This dessert for $14.59 was just right to share with two to three people, however Corina was not in a sharing mood so we lamentably let her indulge.

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Il Fornaio
301 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 550-0303  www.ilfornaio.com

Open daily: Monday – Thursday 7am to 10pm, Friday 7am – 11pm, Saturday 7:30am – 11pm, and Sunday 7:30am – 10pm.
Here you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also arrange for private or semi-private special events from small to large in the events room. If you are in the mood for taking home a little baked goods, the restaurant is also a bakery and offers a selection of breads and pastries.

It is truly amazing to know that today there are 21 locations, from California to Las Vegas to Virginia, because the whole setting doesn’t feel like a restaurant chain, it feels more like a family owned traditional Italian restaurant. We can all thank to Williams – Sonoma, who in 1981 brought the Il Fornaio bakery concept to the United States and by 1983 there were four bakeries open in California. And for all the food lovers and makers delight Chronicle Books published the Il Fornaio Baking Book and the ‘Pasta” Book.

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Look at this bar! Next time we will try sitting at the bar since it looks so much fun to watch all the culinary action up close and personal. Perhaps we can learn some secrets about their famous house made pasta or tasty pizza.
 Thank you to Rudy and Marco for making Corina’s birthday dinner so special and making all the diners feel so welcome in the heart of Beverly Hills. Dinner was a delightful experience and we all agreed that the last time our taste buds were treated to such a feast it was a few years back in Florence Italy.

What is your favorite Italian dish?judit-corina

 

20 Comments

  • Angie says:

    Looks and sounds so delicious! I love Italian food and can’t wait to try this place the next time I’m in Beverly Hills. The pasta is definitely looking good.

  • Sandra M. says:

    I always thought the restaurants in Beverly Hills are too expenesive, but these prices seem reasonable even if you are not a celebrity. I live in Southern California and will make my hubby take me out to eat for our anniversary which is coming up in March.

  • Peter JohnP says:

    The short ribs with a glass or two of red wine would be my ultimate favorite. That is not fair to tempt me with all this because I’m far away on the East Coast.

  • Hello Angie, glad you like it! This restaurant is a true pasta heaven and make it in house fresh.
    Cheers,
    J+C

  • Hi Sandra, now you do have a delicious plan for anniversary. If you do not have reservation and it is busy don’t worry just relax at the bar with a nice drink.
    CHeers,
    J+C

  • Good choice Peter! The short ribs with the Super Tuscan wine was the “Perfect Pairing”. Please let us know if you had any great pairings lately.
    Cheers,
    J+C

  • Estoy muy lejos y quiero algùn dìa comer en ese Restaurant las delicia presentadas,las felicito se ven muy bellas,abrazos.

  • Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens says:

    Such a wonderful birthday treat! You both looked just beautiful and so happy – what a fun adventure! And the food!?!?!? I would have had such a tough time deciding between the the Cappellacci di Zucca and the Cannelloni al Forno! And wow – the dessert trio is an absolute show-stopper! Fabulous! :D

    • Thank you Shelley for your sweet remark, it really made our day! We did have a great time and can’t wait to go back to try their other dishes. We could just live on the desserts, they were decadent and not too sweet.
      Cheers,
      J+C

  • Jhon says:

    great…:) The I forniao restaurant Beverly Hills are awesome. when i entered into the restaurant i saw design is really awesome.what a fun adventure! And the food was very delicious.Restaurant covered wide area and thousands and thousands of lights around cozy window seats filled with happy diners.It is truly amazing to know that Fornaio is famous for their freshly made pasta and this dish was a luxurious indulgence…. :) its is truly superb trip.

    • Love your description of the design Jhon! It definitely is a cozy place with lots of ambiance and makes you feel at home even in the heart of the Beverly Hills shopping district.
      Cheers,
      J+C

  • David Giani says:

    I used to be the Chef Partner at IL Fornaio in Beverly Hills, nice pictures, congratulations!

    • Thank you David, Il Fornaio is one of the few chains where you feel it is like a small family owned restaurant and everyone was so friendly. Hope you are doing well!
      Cheers,
      J+C

  • nipponnin says:

    So fun to read about your restaurant review. What a gorgeous restaurant! Foods look fantastic. And you both look stylish and elegant.

    • That is lovely of you to say nipponnin! The food was delicious and the setting very cozy. Just right for relaxing after a day spent walking along with the bustling crowds on Rodeo Drive and looking at all those decorative Beverly Hills shops.

  • You two gals look great – and I absolutely love all the pictures! Thanks for the share!

  • Juliana says:

    Great pictures…and I am so happy that you both had a great time…
    Enjoy the rest of your week :)

  • nipponnin says:

    Oh my words! What a fabulous place! I love to dine there someday. Happy belated Birthday Corina! I enjoyed this post very much.

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