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Al Forno - Providence, RI

Al Forno has been around since 1980, before there was a food scene in Providence. The chef-owners are credited with the invention of the grilled pizza, which was quite cutting edge 27 years ago. So, when Hubby and I hit Providence with Nate and Elizabeth for Waterfire (www.waterfire.org) I knew Al Forno was where I wanted to go for dinner. They don't take reservations, but I was able to call ahead and put my name on the list.

 

Waterfire is an installation of bonfires along the rivers in Providence, there as a lighting ceremony and music choreographed for the whole evening. It's quite a sight to see. Nate also worked up quite an appetite swing dancing; he was quite the ladies’ man and Elizabeth had to rescue him from a tied-dyed vixen. Hubby refused to dance, as usual.

 

Al Forno is a large space on the edge of Providence, with three distinct spaces; downstairs, a more romantic upstairs and outdoor patio dining. We were seated upstairs. We weren't that hungry and opted to share appetizers and desserts.

 

We had the famous pizza; we opted for the pizza Bambini, which is topped with onion rings, fried calamari and the antipasto plate. The pizza was great; there was a huge mount of fried onion strings on top and they added a next crispy salt contrast to the sauce. I really enjoyed the grilling of the pizza; it imparted a woodsy, smokey flavor, as well as a unique texture to the crust you don't get with regular pizza ovens. Calamari was good, very tender, light batter, and it came with a good marinara sauce. The antipasto came with an assortment of classic Italian nibbles; olives, fresh mozz, prosciutto, roasted peppers, etc.

 

Desserts were also very nice. We shared a "Croque Mademoiselle" and a brownie dulce de leche ice cream sandwich. Croque Mademoiselle normally a grilled ham, cheese and onion sandwich, but this version was a brioche filled with Nutella. Very tasty. The dulce de leche ice cream was great (I do love all things caramel), and the dark chocolate brownie was a nice contrast. I do have to note these were the most expensive desserts I’ve ever encountered at 14.95 a pop. That’s impressive given all the fine dining I’ve done.

 

It was a nice dinner, but would have been way overpriced if we had had a full meal. Still, it’s always nice to experience food history. Hit Waterfire if you can, it’s a good time.

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