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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fornello's [Meeting #49]

1011 W. Irving Park Rd (GoogleMaps)
(773) 404-2210

CPC invaded Fornello's on 12/18/2007.

Don't listen to what Rachel Ray might tell you about this place. The pizza is mediocre and the service is poor. The high prices reflect that either the proprietors don't know this, or they thought we would not notice. We noticed. We are the Chicago Freaking Pizza Club! Didn't they see our t-shirts?

We ventured out to Fornello's on a very cold night for the last meeting of 2007. Fornello's is an Italian restaurant that offers a variety of pizzas in addition to standard Italian fare. It is situated along Irving Park Road in a good-sized space with big open windows facing the street. Above the front entrance is an enormous banner quoting Rachel Ray's proclamation that they have the best pizza in Chicago. Inside, the restaurant is occupied by white furniture, and features light-colored murals along the walls. The main restaurant was mostly empty, and they seated us in a private nook in the back of the restaurant.

Fornello's offers a few kinds of pizza, and we decided to try their pizza specialty - the thin crust pizzas from their brick oven. We ordered three different gourmet pizzas:

  • Capricciosa: artichokes, black olives, capers, mushrooms, and mozzarella
  • Quattro Stagioni: mozzarella, prosciutto ham, artichokes, mushrooms
  • Quattro Formaggi: mozzarella, asiago, provolone, romano
The standard size of the gourmet pizzas is 10 inches, and they were mostly $12.95 at that size. You can make each pizza 12, 14, or 16 inches for an additional cost.

The ingredients on all the pizzas were fresh, but the capricciosa and the quattro stagioni tasted pretty much the same aside from the capers. The main reason for this is that the "prosciutto ham" was not prosciutto by any stretch of the imagination. Prosciutto is a dried, cured ham that is sliced thin for serving. The ham on our pizza consisted of bland chunks of light pink meat that resembled the packs of styrovac Canadian Bacon sold at big grocery stores next to the string cheese. It was almost unnoticeable amidst the other ingredients. This was such an egregious misrepresentation (and a mistake for a place that tries to present authentic Italian ingredients) that I have to wonder if they just ran out of prosciutto and made a substitution without telling us.

Nevertheless, the four-cheese pizza was well-received. The texture and flavor of the cheese combination was very good, and it would probably lead to a return visit if I lived in the neighborhood.

The crust is not as thin as the Neopolitan-type pizza we thought we might be getting. It was pretty bland, but stayed firm during dinner and with leftovers the next day. The pizzas did not have much sauce, and they did have a generous amount of cheese, but (aside from the four-cheese pizza) there was nothing special about the mozzarella on the pizzas. Overall, nothing aside from the prosciutto was bad, but we were disappointed with the pizza.

Although we are here to judge the pizza, I must note that the service let us down. First, we were not sure how thin these thin crust pizzas were, and so we asked for a recommendation as to the sizes we should get to feed five moderately hungry people. Our server told us to get all three pizzas in their extra large size for an additional cost of $9 per pizza. We followed his suggestion, and we had more than twice as much pizza as we needed. As a result, we ended up with what I believe was the largest per person bill in pizza club history, though we had not even ordered drinks. We did, however, get leftovers.

Also, though after 30 minutes they brought pizza stands out and told us the pizza would be out shortly, it actually took them nearly an hour from the time of our order to bring our pizzas to the table. We were not given an explanation for the delay, though we ordered thin crust pizzas and there was only one other occupied table in the restaurant.

Petey gives Fornello's 5.325/10.

Looks promising inside...

Serve it up...

Four Cheeses will never let you down...

Tardy, but happy to eat!


Where it went down...

Il Fornello on Urbanspoon


  1. This place was CRAP!

    Before I get to the pizza, which was less than mediocre, please indulge me while I bitch.

    We arrived on a freezing cold night to an empty restaurant that was did not have out (reserved) table ready. The five of us settled on three pizzas and and the waiter's suggestion as to what size to get. He recommended we get three extra-large pies. Even if the pizza had been good, that would have been far too much. Finally, despite there being only one other occupied table in the restaurant, it took an impossibly long time for the pizza to arrive.

    Now, the pizza. Three pies, two with lots of toppings and one with four kinds of cheese. The crust on all three was identical - flavorless. There have been Pizza Club attendees in the past who have been deservedly mocked for only eating the toppings off the pizza. At this place, that would have been a good strategy. Then the pizza would have been less disappointing.

    Leaving aside my hostility towards the service and focusing solely on the quality of the pizza, I give this place a 5.

    Oh, did I mention that the three thin crust pizzas cost more than $70?

  2. So I had the cold remnants of the pizza club meeting. I'm not sure what i was eating but I was starving. There was a pizza with a lot of vegetables. It was not great. The one with just cheese though made me want to try it in the restaurant itself. It's hard to judge from cold leftovers, but watch me try!

    I give it a 5.5

  3. Yeah, this place was kind of disappointing... for a seemingly authentic Italian restaurant, their pizzas were pretty lame. I don't know why, but I expected more of a Napoli style pizza... but these pizzas were just boring. Flavorless crust, ok cheese, I couldn't tell you a thing about the sauce, and ham masqueradinig as proscuitto... so yeah, they get a 5 from me too

  4. this place was really disappointing. the menu descriptions sounded great, and the ingredients were fresh, but it did not come together. i did really like the four-cheese pizza. the rest of the pizza was not horrible, and i will try not to let my score be poisoned by the poor service. Just because of the cheese pizza, I will boost an otherwise mediocre pizza experience to a 5.8.

  5. L-A-M-E Sorry Rachel Ray, no can do, this place was lame-o! If you do get stuck going, you HAVE to get the 4 cheese za. I am not a fan of cheese-only pizza and this one was fabulous! Its the only reason I'm giving this place a 5