Restaurant Review - Special Night at Al Forno

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A special delight

Special Night at Al Forno


Any night dining out in Rhode Island - at a fine dining establishment - is a special night.  A Saturday treat for the whole family is extra special. Table for 6 is the minimum number to declare a reservation at Providence’s Al Forno Restaurant on S. Water Street. And, six we were.


Waiting to be sat until our full party arrived is sometimes annoying at restaurants with this policy, but in a hot people-watching spot, it’s not, so we sat at the first-floor bench and did just that.  All ages, combinations of large parties, intimate tables of two, and more than a few children, well-behaved and yes, enjoying the grilled pizzas, were observed. Casual attire to full dress-up, everyone looked ready for a Saturday downtown.


The walkway in from the maxxed out parking lot gives you a feeling of being anywhere but where you  are - with an arbor, or large pergola dripping with grapes and green foliage (we think it is real greenery) and strings of twinkling lights gives this an ambiance of a European alfresco dining spot. Thoughts of trips abroad enters the mind. With everyone standing in line, right next to that dining area, we wonder if a soft translucent screen might make diner and those in-waiting more comfortable.


Moving on to food! A small familiar menu is presented by an experienced waiter who cautions us about no substitutions for their signature selections - and we should order dessert with our meals as most every item - including the ice cream - is made to order. 


We started with a margherita grilled pizza and stuffed squash blossoms. The pizza, with curled scallions was delightful and brings us back to memories of other Al Forno times. Even if we make that pizza ourselves, one just cannot replicate it. The squash blossoms were stuffed with a ricotta mix and done tempura-style. They were a bit disappointing in the crispiness factor, but delicious in the tastiness factor.


Wine and beer were ordered. We’d opt for a glass for the beer, and Sangria on the menu for a hot summer night in Providence. Why not?


For those in the know (old restaurant people we are), the Dirty Steak is a delicacy - and you won’t find it on the menu.  Spicy, cooked rare, with a dark sauce that defies description. Served with mashed potatoes. Sharing is a must, for everyone must try this.


Other dishes ordered were the grilled scallops with mashed potatoes and double green beans (no creamed corn, here); a pork chop entrée with almost more flavor than the steak, and sides of pasta and grilled broccoli. 


The desert was a lemon sorbet type which quickly melted and was an unneeded disappointment, even with the two little non-descript chocolate cookies. In any case, we were delightfully full with taste buds completely satisfied.


We always add a sound-factor to our reviews. So! This is not the place for intimate conversation or decision making. One could clearly not hear a “yes” or a “no” to a question - oh, my.  Yes, it’s noisy. No matter where you sit, though that outdoor pergola area is looking better now that we think about it.


Gather your six and make that reservation, unless an hour wait sounds ok to you and yours. You’ll want to visit Al Forno again and again - special time - any time.

Until the “next” time…