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“Reliably Pleasant” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Il Fornaio

Il Fornaio
520 Cowper St, Palo Alto, CA 94301-1823
650-853-3888
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Ranked #55 of 313 Restaurants in Palo Alto
Price range: $10 - $50
Cuisines: Bakery, Italian, Café, Wine Bar
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Outdoor seating
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Reservations, Late Night
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Hamilton
Transit: Cal Train
San Francisco, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“Reliably Pleasant”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2014

I've been to several of Il Fornaio's restaurants and I keep coming back when I need someplace that I can depend upon for a nice meal in a pleasant setting. The food is consistently good but just shy of exceptional. I appreciate that the seating is comfortable - never tightly packed - and I've never seen it noisy or difficult to hold a conversation. Great, reliable place for a nice and undistracted business lunch.

  • Visited May 2014
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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139 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    38
    55
    31
    10
    5
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Chicago, Illinois
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Nice atmosphere with erratic service”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2014

The place is nice, but the service can be way off. The food tended to be good but the pacing wasn’t there. It almost seemed that the restaurant had just opened and was trying to work out its kinks with some waiters doing some things and others doing others without anybody really knowing what was going on. The Minestrone soup was good as was the Pizza Margherita. The ravioli was also quite good, but the service was so off that you couldn’t help but notice the problems and throwing off an otherwise pretty good meal.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chelan, Washington
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“A nice choice in Palo Alto”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2014

We picked this restaurant over others in the area at the suggestion of our dinner guest who lives in the area. This place is huge, but very well operated. The staff was very friendly and accommodating. Our waiter, Christop, was attentive and always on the spot at the right time without swarming. We split a very tasty spinach salad. My tagliatelle entree was excellent. My wife had the orecchiette with Italian sausage which she reported was a bit on the dry side. Christop suggested a bottle of wine that was being featured and it was excellent at a great price. For one of a chain of restaurants, this one felt family owned, and we highly recommend a visit.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TORINO
Top Contributor
77 reviews 77 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“Average quality”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2014

I went to this restaurant for a business dinner.
Although nothing was wrong and the food was reasonable, I think that several (important) details should be improved. First of all, the service was quite slow and not always accurate.
Secondly, I think the restaurant should try to improve its Italian flavor: as an example, how can you list a dish of pasta under the heading of second dishes? Lastly, I was surprised that the wine they offered to us was not Italian.
I cannot judge about the price, since someone else payed for me.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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Charlottesville VA USA
Top Contributor
88 reviews 88 reviews
44 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
“Long my favorite downtown Palo Alto restaurant”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2014

This Palo Alto staple is great for a business lunch, solo dinner, after-work drinks, and weekend brunch. When I'm flying solo, I often sit at the "line" where I can keep an eye on the chefs at work. The ingredients are as close to fresh as you can get, yes it really is a wood-fired pizza oven, the pasta dishes are all first rate, service varies but is usually pretty good, and the food is served piping hot. What more could you ask? They have a fairly extensive bar and wine list -- but their house Chianti is just fine.

While a few other new restaurants around that part of Palo Alto and Menlo Park have grabbed some of the Silicon Valley glitter, this is still a popular spot with venture capitalists, lawyers, and accountants meeting with their clients/companies.

They have valet parking. There is also a free 4 hour parking garage down the alley across the street. That garage is usually full during very busy times.

  • Visited March 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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