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Review of Il Fornaio

Il Fornaio
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Ranked #26 of 2,004 Restaurants in Sacramento
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $40
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Large groups, Bar scene, Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Late Night, Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: 4th Street
Transit: Regional Transit stops one block over on 4th and L Street. Amtrack stops three blocks over on 4th and I Street.
Description: Il Fornaio means "the Baker" in Italian. Located in downtown Sacramento, this award-winning restaurant offers an authentic and unique Italian dining experience and a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2007 wine list. Enjoy wood-fired rotisserie and grilled meats, poultry and game; house made and imported pastas; pizzas from an oak wood burning oven; fresh salads and house made soups; antipasti and a wide variety of desserts made daily from scratch.
Davis, California
Level Contributor
90 reviews
59 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed January 26, 2014

The problem with this restaurant is that it is inconsistent. I have eaten here a good number of times over the years, most recently on Friday night. Sometimes the food is very good (never really great) and other times average. This time my entree, the bread pork special, was average. Not bad but nothing special. I did not specifically ask others what they thought of their selections, but based on the lack of comments, I think that good but not great was the general consensus for most of the selections. The good news is that we shared several desserts and all of those were very good. Service here is usually very good.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Ani K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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180 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
229 reviews
117 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 132 helpful votes
“Clueless reception”
Reviewed January 12, 2014 via mobile

What a shame. We arrive at 7:00 for our 7:15 reservation via open table and are seated at 7:45. The room was busy but not packed. Reception desk offered no apology or explanation. I guess this sort of customer service may be normal for them but not for us. If we make a reservation we expect it to be honored. And we were not alone as several others were left waiting without explanation.
Too bad, the food was very good and the service was top notch in an attractive room.

Visited January 2014
1 Thank THEPOW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
24 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Vodka infused pasta sauce...Yum!”
Reviewed December 28, 2013

Their simple, yet delicious house salad w/ a slice of Parmesan cheese is so fresh!
The vodka infused pasta sauce has me coming back for more! Of course, being a bakery, their bread is the best.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank ballymahon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Roseville, California
Level Contributor
156 reviews
139 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Expected Excellent, Received Below Average Food”
Reviewed November 28, 2013

After decades of playing chef to family groups in our own homes, four of us studied the dining choices for Thanksgiving and chose Il Fornaio based on prior experience and overall reviews. We were looking forward to a really good feast. As we departed the restaurant, all agreed that the excellent service and nice ambience in the comfortable windowed Piazza section of the restaurant failed to overcome a pretty sad meal priced at $39 each, plus beverages and wines.

We each voted on a 10 scale. I counted one 3 and three 5's. Below average, for sure. Only our wine choice rated high.

Let me be clear. We each ordered the Thanksgiving feast served in four courses. Had we received this meal in a coffee shop, we would have rated it OK but not memorable. However, this is Il Fornaio, where 4-star dining rules. In a coffee shop, the price would have been maybe $14 per serving. Not $39.

Course 1: Zuppa di Zucca or Butternut Squash soup. I thought it was very good. Everyone else thought it was just fair.

Course 2: Insalata Invernale or mixed greens with a touch of Gorgonzola, dressed in oil and vinegar. Small serving was just ok. My salad had one small chuck of the tasty cheese.

Course 3: Entree of Tacchino Arrosto Tradizionale, or roast turkey breast with sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, dressing, string beans, cranberry sauce. First, the sweet potatoes were not sweet. it was a too-large and very dry serving. But the turkey was the real problem. The four-slice serving was generous but salty. Chef Bruno came to our table -- a nice touch -- heard our soft complaint and brought a plate of gravied breast slices that were a tad better. Then he brought another plate of dark meat slices. One member of our party said "the dark meat tastes almost like duck," not a compliment. All of the turkey tasted as if it had been over-brined in salt water. Chef Bruno acknowledged that his turkeys had been brined prior to cooking.

Having brined turkeys myself, I think Il Fornaio may have left their birds in the sauce way too long. Or the brine was far too salty.

A second problem was the gravy. Most of us like to add some pan gravy to the white meat, mashed potatoes and stuffing. Good pan gravy is a cooking challenge. But Il Fornaio's gravy was thin, reddish and free of traditional flavor. It served only to moisten the food, not enhance the flavors as expected.

Course 4: Torta di Zucca con Gelato - desert of very small pumpkin pie slice with a smear of whipped cream and an eraser head of gelato. What are we, miniature people? And, frankly, the pie was bland. Denny's serves better.

I must say that our wait person, Tyler, did an excellent job, as did other staff who kept our glasses topped off. And, the initial course of bread slices with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip was really good, giving all of us hope that the food would please us. And Bruno was gracious and accommodating. We will probably return at some point to order the Italian fare that made Il Fornaio a go-to house.

Disappointed in Sacramento

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Murry S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
1,001 reviews
331 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 350 helpful votes
“Social time with friends”
Reviewed October 22, 2013

After a hard day's drive, I got summoned by friends to join them here. Off I went.
The experience was very positive. The restaurant was situated in the business section of the city inside a fancy building next to a bank.

I met two friends and made another (new) friend connection during my visit.

Atmosphere and decor were very nice and food was great. Server was very attentive. One in our group ordered calamari and the rest of us ordered vegetarian. All the food came and went to satiate our hungry palate.

Overall, the experience was excellent. They even have gluten free on the menu. Price was reasonable considering the location (near the business district) Yes, I will come back here.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Indiana_Jonesse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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