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“Not so hot” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Il Fornaio

Il Fornaio
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Ranked #10 of 2,143 Restaurants in San Jose
Price range: $30 - $50
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Business meetings, Special occasions, Romantic, Large groups
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Brunch, Breakfast, Drinks, Lunch, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Valet Parking, Validated Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: San Carlos St.
Transit: City bus stops are located nearby
Description: Il Fornaio means "The Baker" in Italian. This award-winning restaurant offers an authentic and unique dining experience. Specialties include wood-fired rotisserie and grilled meats, poultry and game; housemade pastas; pizzas from an oak wood burning oven; fresh salads and housemade soups; a wide variety of desserts; and fresh baked bread made daily from scratch. Winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2013.
Sunnyvale, California
Level Contributor
74 reviews
51 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Not so hot”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 2, 2013

I've always liked this restaurant--a nice open room with some more private booths, yellow walls, Italian knick knacks. A nicely varied menu that offers, beyond its regular items, specialties chosen from a varying region of Italy. A nice wine selection, by the bottle and glass. But this recent visit was only so-so, partly because I ordered badly, I think. The creamy polenta with mushrooms and gravy that I had as a starter was more like a finisher: too much cheese and gravy that needed more flavor; overall, heavy. Followed by a pizza (my mistake, admittedly) that was not as good as one you'd get at Domino's. I ended up taking three-fourths of it home with me. Service was good. Parking a bit pricey.

  • Visited January 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank ProfessorEnglish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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387 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    145
    136
    63
    35
    8
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
San Jose, California
Level Contributor
147 reviews
77 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Reliable food, unreliable service”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 24, 2013

I've been to Il Fornaio dozens of times over the years. Little has changed. The food is reliable, the service is not. If I'm solo, I sit at the bar. Nick and Kevin are excellent bartenders, always on top of things, including making sure the food arrives hot.

This time I was meeting a business connection for lunch. I arrived first, so I was going to sit at the bar and have a glass of wine while I waited for my companion, who is notoriously late. Unfortunately, the woman bartender was more interested in arranging the glassware than serving a customer and she never did come to ask me what I wanted to drink. So, when my companion arrived, we just went to our table.

We lucked out on our server. Ariana was there whenever we needed her, and didn't interrupt our conversation when she checked on our status. SOOOO many servers at sooo many restaurants (including Il Fornaio) think the customers are there on the server's time, and just barge right into a customer's conversation to ask us if we need something. Ariana was a refreshing surprise.

We split a pizza margherita. Excellent, as always. Il Fornaio CLEARLY has the best wood-fired pizza in The South Bay. I've had dozens over the years, and only once was it not up to par. We shared tagliatelle bolognese. Excellent bolognese--almost all meat, not too tomato-y like many places. Apple crespelle for desert, also excellent.

I've never been able to figure out why the food is always so reliably good, and yet the service is always so unreliable, at Il Fornaio. It literally depends on what server you draw, since some are excellent, many are good, and an equal number are poor.

  • Visited January 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank John O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hartland, Vermont
Level Contributor
99 reviews
81 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Nice breakfast but nothing special”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 23, 2013

We had breakfast here one morning and it was quite nice. Service was very good; it's a nice setting; coffee was good.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank RookerVT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
394 reviews
212 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 172 helpful votes
“Old reliable”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 10, 2013

Come here every time I feel like skipping a search for another fancy, trendy, latest culinary sensation, and just have a good well prepared meal being served by well trained waiters while enjoying our drinks by the windows watching the street action go by. Done it forever, can always get in, and the visiting family or business partners usually love it. Keep it up!

  • Visited January 2013
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank hi_stick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
24 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Great 2012 holiday party”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 3, 2013

Had holiday party for 50 people in December. Food was incredible for such a large party. Pasta, meat and salads were all excellent and the desserts were phenomenal. Would highly recommend.

  • Visited December 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Tiso99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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