casual and elegant rolled into one
Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 9 •Food – 8 •Ambiance – 9 •Price – $$$$
By Danielle Pitanello
Among the numerous restaurants that line Broadway in downtown Saratoga, a new one is causing a stir—Forno Bistro. Specializing in rustic Italian food, the bistro is the sister restaurant to two others also in Saratoga—Chianti Il Ristorante and the new Mare Ristorante & Otto Lounge.
Since Chianti is a favorite of mine, my expectations for Forno were high. And those expectations were so exceeded that the day after I enjoyed lunch there with a friend, I returned the following evening with my husband for dinner.
While reservations are not accepted, it was very easy to grab a table for lunch, inside or on the sidewalk dining patio. (Once track season sets in, however, I’m sure it will more difficult.) My friend and I chose to dine al fresco and enjoy the sport of people watching. Be warned—if it’s a hot day, you may want to enjoy your lunch inside. The bistro has a black awning that heats up when the sun is hot. Pick cooler days and evenings for outside dining.
My friend had the lunch special—salad with smoked salmon. It was very large, comprised of greens, feta cheese and about six “bundles” of smoked salmon, served with a light, tasty balsamic vinaigrette. She couldn’t get over the amount of salmon served, or how good the feta was. Feta can be good or great, but according to my friend this was the best she has ever tasted and it went beautifully with the fish.
I enjoyed a generous sized chicken and mozzarella sandwich served on Rosemary foccacia bread. Like many gourmet sandwiches today, pesto replaced the mayonnaise, and it was outstanding. It was served with a small, yet terrific little salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Both of our salads had fennel and carrots thinly shaved as well as grape tomatoes.
The following evening, before attending the ballet, my husband (dining companion) and I ate inside. Unlike the lunch that I enjoyed the previous afternoon, this meal needed to be quick. We were running late and asked the waiter to help us out with service and choices that would have us to Swan Lake in time.
The wine list is very extensive with prices ranging from $30-$200. We settled on a 2004 Mionetto Pinot Grigio, recommended by our server, which did not disappoint. On my next visit, I will explore the reds and try some of the super Tuscans available.
We started with a very full plate of crispy fried calamari. It was very good, but there really was too much for two people and we couldn’t finish it.
I went for simple, yet delicious, with the rustic style wood fired pizza with eggplant, Melanzane & Grana. This thin crust pizza is such a treat when cooked quickly in a hot wood-fired oven. The combination of cheese and thin eggplant is such a tasty combo…everyone needs to give it a try!
My husband enjoyed Filetto Di Maile al Balsamico. This is pork medallions cooked with fresh herbs and a very light orange sauce. His pork was tender and not at all overcooked, as often happens. He claims to want to eat the same dish each time we return to Forno—high praise indeed!
Both lunch and dinner met our wishes. Lunch was leisurely with nicely paced service and dinner was served attentively and had us out in time. That is the sign of a great restaurant devoted to “your dining experience”. Both lunch and dinner begins with the increasingly popular bread and olive oil. Both are great, but do not eat too much of it as portions are large and arrive timely.
A note about the décor— it is very elegant, but quaint at the same time. There are a lot of beautiful woods and locally designed iron pieces. The lighting is gorgeous and even the outside tables are worth taking the time to look at closely. The time and passion used to decorate this restaurant matches the passion that goes into the food.
Before tip, dinner was $70; lunch was $26.
Forno Bistro is located at 541 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Serving lunch M-F 11:30am-3pm; dinner 5pm-9:30pm. For more information call 581.2402 or visit www.dzrestaurants.com.