Nil Fornaio

I hadn’t been to an Il Fornaio in years so was wondering if it stayed as delicious as I remember. I work close to the Levi Plaza location so took the opportunity of having lunch there with a friend who drove in from Half Moon Bay.

It wasn’t crowded at 12:15 (on a Friday) and got seated right away. The waitress rambled off the specials of the day, and as soon as she said, “Mushroom Risotto,” I knew what my order would be. When my order came, it had some sort of meat stew on top of what looked like plain wet rice. I tasted it and it was nothing what I imagined their mushroom risotto to be – the meat was dry, the tomatoey sauce was overly seasoned for the risotto (it overpowered the rice) and the rice itself was mushy and bland. Since I wanted a nice, vegetarian meal, I waited to flag down the waitress to ask her if this was the correct dish. As she continued to ignore our table while waiting on a group of businessmen, I munched on their delicious breads – in particular, the olive bread. After about 15 minutes of wondering if I was brought the correct dish, I finally caught the waitress’s attention and asked if this was, in fact, the mushroom risotto that I had ordered. “Yes, it is. It’s topped with duck ragout.” “But where are the mushrooms?” I asked. They’re the white stuff in the rice.” Ummm…yum…white stuff. I continued to eat it but it still didn’t appeal much to me so I finished off the breadbasket instead.

I suppose it was my fault for not listening more carefully to the lunch special, but whenever I hear,
“mushroom risotto,” everything else pales in audible comparison. Nonetheless, the dish was tasteless and I know now to order the ole standby-pizza.

Which reminds me – my father sold quite a few of his cookbooks to Jan Schat (of the famous Schat’s family bakeries) and now Jan is the corporate VP of Il Fornaio’s bakeries. So indirectly I’d like to think the bread was so delicious there, thanks to my dad.

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