Each time we return to Providence, we can't wait to say hello again to Al Forno. While it's always exciting to try the newest eatery in town, it's important to visit old friends.
Last week, we found an opening in a very full day for an early bite at this long time favorite. From the parking lot, we followed the enticing wood-grilled aromas through the courtyard, up the steps to our usual spot – the upstairs bar.
No squabble over what to order, we were there for Al Forno's famous "grilled pizza." Although it's often imitated, it's never as good anywhere else.
It's simplicity and freshness are unequaled!
The very thin dough of our Margarita Pizza is placed directly on the grill (no pan), grilled on one side, flipped and then lightly annointed with olive oil, garlic, cheese and tomato. When it's crisp and bubbling, another drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of scallions were added. The free-form shape of the finished pie is served on a large oval plate, ready for your artistic slicing. Free your mind of what you think a pizza should be, and dig-in.
Whew! I need a moment.
At Al Forno, we've learned to order dessert first.
After some shameless pleading and whimpering, Chef David Reynoso took pity on us and created one of Al Forno's spectacular Lemon Meringue Tarts. (It's Penny's obsession and had just been taken off the menu.) Like many of their desserts, it's baked to order and takes a while, but when you scoop-up the lemon curd accented with paper-thin slices of lemon and inhale the mound of airy meringue, it is so worth it.
Consider this just a flash of the brilliance that the Al Forno menu has to offer. It's definitely a destination.
Don't forget, pay attention to your old friends, they know what you like and can make it exactly the way you remember.
Intrigued by the grilled pizza concept? The recipe is in George and Joanne's book Cucina Simpatica: Robust Trattoria Cooking From Al Forno.
Writer: Ed Cherubino
Photos: © 2010 Penny Cherubino