About Il Fornaio - Palo Alto

520 Cowper Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
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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 2007.

Dining Style:
Casual Dining

Cuisines:
Italian

Hours of Operation:
Breakfast: Monday - Friday: 7:00am - 10:30am, Saturday - Sunday: 8:00am - 11:00am; Lunch: Sunday - Saturday: 11:30am - 5:00pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 10;00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm

Cross Street:
Hamilton

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(650) 853-3888

Website:
http://ilfornaio.com/

Catering:
Off-site catering available. Please contact Event Coordinator for more details.

Parking Details:
Valet parking is available for $10. In addition, there is also the hotel parking lot, as well as a public lot available.

Public Transit:
Cal Train

Executive Chef:
Michele Godina

Additional:
Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Area, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Smoking Area, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Restaurant Photos

Vegetable Soup
Insalata De Tonno
Baba al Rhum
Almond croissant
carpaccio
Caprese
Minestrone
Bread
22Oz Porterhouse Steak
Dessert Platter
Cinnamon Twist
Beef Carpaccio
Crespelle Alla Crema Acida
pancakes
Mocha
Tosto Francese
Zabaglione
Sea bass
Arugula, Shrimp & Avocado Salad
Shrimp Risotto
Maccaroni Al Formaggio
Uova Del Fornaio Con Bruschetta
Cannela
Bellini
Cappuccino
Pan Roasted Petrale Sole
Ravioli Di Magro Ai Carciofi
Mussels
Italian Renaissance
Risotto Salciccia
Tiramisu
NY Steak
Lava Cake
Bruschetta
Salmon Pasta With Cream Sauce
Barilotti Alla Pugliese
French Toast w/ Seasonal Berries
Veggie Omlette
Salmon And Spinach Salad
Rosina Il Chocolata

Private Dining

Celebrating 20 years in downtown Palo Alto, Il Fornaio offers 2 private dining rooms and a heated, covered, garden Piazza. Banquet menus for large parties features the best of Il Fornaio's authentic Italian cuisine and Chef Luigi's signature dishes.

Il Fornaio - Palo Alto Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.2

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.1

service

4.0

ambience

4.1

value

3.8

noise

Moderate

89% would recommend it to a friend

good for groups (60)
special occasion (49)
great for lunch (43)
See All
fit for foodies (35)
great for outdoor dining (33)
neighborhood gem (31)
great for brunch (27)
kid-friendly (23)
romantic (18)
notable wine list (17)
late-night find (7)
vibrant bar scene (7)
hot spot (5)
scenic view (4)
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1573 reviews
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Food was disappointing. Minestrone just ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined 3 days ago

Food was disappointing. Minestrone just so-so. Pizza burnt on edges. Service was very good.

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food2
ambience4
service4
value2

charming, comfortable, quiet, great wait ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined 5 days ago

charming, comfortable, quiet, great wait staff, convenient. valet parking but also parking garage across the street, excellent food, they don't rush you out to turn over the table. very nice. one of my favs! I have another resv. for 4 on 8/5

Tags: great for brunch, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

Not imressive considering its at such a ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined 5 days ago

Not imressive considering its at such a prime location.

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food1
ambience2
service2
value1

One of the nicest Il Fornio restaurants ...

vip
 (Hawaii)
·Dined on July 19, 2016

One of the nicest Il Fornio restaurants we've been to. Downtown Palo Alto just off University Avenue. Next door to Garden Court Hotel. We were en route from SFO to our hotel and were looking for a quiet restaurant for a nice, relaxing meal. This Il Fornio went beyond our expectations! Service was excellent. We will keep it in mind on future visits to Palo Alto.

Tags: fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

Reliable place but the dishes start tast ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 17, 2016

Reliable place but the dishes start tasting all the same after a while. Good location in downtown PA.

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, good for groups, great for lunch
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food4
ambience4
service3
value3

the lamb did not look or taste of same q ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 16, 2016

the lamb did not look or taste of same quality as some of your other dishes. It looked boiled. I was disappointed as I know you have the open flame and it didn't look like it was used at all to char the lamb. The cut of meat was also not very good quality -- looked like it was pieced together from several different loins and then wrapped in soggy bacon.

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food3
ambience5
service5
value4

We have dined at this location over many ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 16, 2016

We have dined at this location over many years. This will be our last. We went at 5:30 on a Thursday. Had to park in the side parking lot and have to pass a bench where employees smoke and the ground and trash are filled with cigarette butts. Disgusting look and disgusting smell. When we sat at our table the wine glasses were dirty and they had to bring clean ones. We ordered the house chardonnay and it was room temperature - also sent back. The waiter disappeared and the hostess (who did her best) began to serve us and the tables around us. We had to wait far too long for the check. Entrees were OK but appeared to be tossed on the plate from a distance. The food, service and cleanliness are far better at the Burlingame location, so from now on we will go there.

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food4
ambience4
service2
value3

The group (4) all really enjoyed their f ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 15, 2016

The group (4) all really enjoyed their food and thanked me for choosing this restaurant. Our waiter was excellent....friendly, courteous and quick. On our way to the theatre and we were served quickly so we had time to enjoy the ambiance and our meal with time to spare. We will definitely return.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Very personalized service. An enjoyable ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 9, 2016

Very personalized service. An enjoyable experience.

Tags: special occasion
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food5
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service5
value4

The great meal and customer service are ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 1, 2016

The great meal and customer service are much appreciated. Very lovely and relaxing spot for a good, leisurely meal. Highly recommended. Wonderful new Manager was charming. And attentive. Thanks ! Will definitely return.

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food4
ambience5
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value5

My husband and I brought my 96-year-old ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 30, 2016

My husband and I brought my 96-year-old mother-in-law here for dinner because we knew we would have a solid if not spectacular Italian meal. We also chose Il Fornaio for the feeling of being a classy restaurant without being Palo Alto ridiculous, price-wise. Interestingly, none of our expectations were met. The food was better than we remembered, but the ambience downright odd! We were led to a spot the hostess said would be "nice and quiet," but it was actually a bustling area where waiters and bus people went in and out of the kitchen, calling out loudly to each other, laughing uproariously and, at one point, being prepped as a large group for the evening by a manager who should have conducted herself more professionally. We did get to hear that they should "push the mineral water" and "upsell the wine," along with other bits of business wisdom for the evening which was helpful for avoiding those items. Other than that weirdness, loved my salmon risotto and my husband and his mom enjoyed the spinach ravioli stuffed with sausage. My recommendation is ask to sit in the lovely patio area. There are heat lamps and it's much nicer.

Tags: good for groups, great for lunch
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food4
ambience2
service2
value3

The food was delicious, environment on t ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 30, 2016

The food was delicious, environment on the patio was beautiful and relaxing, and the service was great.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Reliable for brunch, lunch or dinner. N ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 25, 2016

Reliable for brunch, lunch or dinner. Nice variety of appealing dishes. Salads and pizzas are especially good. Service is attentive. Can get a bit chaotic with big groups.

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, good for groups
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food3
ambience3
service3
value3

Did not enjoy this visit as much as usua ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 25, 2016

Did not enjoy this visit as much as usual. Our server seemed brusk and had no presence. Also, we asked for a specific table and were ignored completely due to some kind of rearrangement. They could have offered some kind of preferred table to compensate. Felt chaotic, like we were at a coffee shop. At this price point, that should not be.

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food4
ambience2
service2
value3

I have eaten at Il Fornio about once a m ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 24, 2016

I have eaten at Il Fornio about once a month for close to 20 years. I have nothing new to say. Please stop sending these surveys

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, notable wine list
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food5
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service5
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This was my first time dining at this lo ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 21, 2016

This was my first time dining at this location. I've been a big fan of Italian food for year and truly believe that Il Fornaio does it right. The Palo Alto location does it right as well. I had one of the best risottos I've ever had there. Chef Michele was kind enough to modify one of them from their festa regional menu, making it completely vegan. Outstanding.

Beautiful location with a great back patio area. Our server was great too. They all seem to have excellent training and are well versed on the menu and wine list. We had the wine flight from the Campania menu. Wines we normally wouldn't have tried but turned out to be an excellent choice thanks to our server.

If you're in Palo Alto, try this place.

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
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food5
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I have been to this Il Fornaio about 10 ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 21, 2016

I have been to this Il Fornaio about 10 times and dined in the Burlingame location roughly 75 times because that is more convenient for me. Il Fornaio consistently delivers excellent food, service, ambience, value. It is a wonderful place to go to if you want a great meal whether you are eating alone or with a large group. There are several dining rooms with just the right spot for your party. I recommend it highly.

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food4
ambience5
service5
value5

We enjoyed a father's day dinner at this ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 20, 2016

We enjoyed a father's day dinner at this restaurant. On this day, 06/19, 216, the Il Fornaio Restaurant in Burlingame was booked solid, but the Palo Alto one has available table at 6:30 p.m. We had a good meal with great service and good food food. Off street parking was within 2 to 3 blocks of the restaurant which is right off University Ave. I recommend this restaurant to family gatherings. You get excellent Italian food without having to go to Italy.

Tags: good for groups, special occasion
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food4
ambience5
service4
value4

Absolutely TERRIBLE service. Worst I hav ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 19, 2016

Absolutely TERRIBLE service. Worst I have had at any restaurant in the Bay Area in years. We were finally seated 20 minutes late, no apologies. It took 10-15 more for the waiter to get to us. My food was cooked incorrectly, had to send it back. My daughter's omelette was terrible. I could go on...

I have been to Il Fornaio several times in the past few years for both work and personal meals. This may be the last. I am extremely disappointed and upset. The food has deteriorated, but words can't describe the level of service it the attitude.

Terrible - stay away. There are many restaurants offering far better food, service and value within a few blocks.

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food3
ambience3
service1
value1

Good quality of food and friendly serve ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 19, 2016

Good quality of food and friendly servers elegant

Tags: great for outdoor dining, special occasion, scenic view
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food4
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value3

An old standby for us in PA. Nice to squ ...

 
 (Portland)
·Dined on June 18, 2016

An old standby for us in PA. Nice to squeeze at least one visit in on our trip. Sorry the closed the Il Fornaio in Portland!

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food4
ambience4
service4

Great meal for the price. We have eaten ...

 
 (San Joaquin)
·Dined on June 12, 2016

Great meal for the price. We have eaten there twice; once for breakfast and now for late lunch. Each time, the food and service were great. Not too pricey, the ambience is great, and the food has always been great.

Tags: good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

We went to II Fornaio in downtown San Jo ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 12, 2016

We went to II Fornaio in downtown San Jose for our second date and were both less than impressed with the service and food that evening. Our waiter never brought us the additional napkins we had asked for (twice) and had a tear in his sleeve.

However, our experience at II Fornaio in Palo Alto completely redeemed its brand with excellent service and great food. The wine list was impressive and offered wines from literally all over the world. We were very pleased and would recommend this place.

Tags: romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
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food4
ambience4
service4
value4

We came to this restaurant for a post-gr ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 12, 2016

We came to this restaurant for a post-graduation meal with a three-generation family. We loved it! Good service, delicious food and great value.

Tags: good for groups, romantic, special occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

reliable downtown Palo Alto italian rest ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on June 12, 2016

reliable downtown Palo Alto italian restaurant. food is good, not great. service was excellent and the wine list very good.

Tags: great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
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food3
ambience3
service4
value3

perfect for us

 
 (Dallas)
·Dined on June 11, 2016

Good lunch and drink selections for everyone in our party, including 4 with special needs. Accommodation of our group size increase. Didn't rush our celebratory meal.

Tags: great for brunch, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch
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food5
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Great brunch spot for family celebration

 
 (Central Coast)
·Dined on May 29, 2016

We went to Il Fornaio for brunch before my son's recent graduation. We were a party of 12 and we were delighted to find that they had put us a in a private room with beautiful painted wall murals. With grandparents in attendance it was wonderful to be in a space where everyone coulee talk and hear each other. The service and food were also outstanding. Everyone found something delicious on the menu and our waiter was very attentive and polite. We were incredibly happy with the whole outing. Excellent spot, reasonably priced for good food, and appeals to young and old. Thank you!

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

What is with Il Fornaio and the air con ...

 
 (Central Coast)
·Dined on May 29, 2016

What is with Il Fornaio and the air conditioning or lack of? I've been in 2 locations in the last few months and it's been uncomfortable hot. I sat in the bar Saturday night, waiting for my date, and it was sweltering . The bartender apologized saying that he was embarrassed. Very uncomfortable setting.

Tags: vibrant bar scene
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food3
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Menu Item

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on May 25, 2016

Thanks for the wonderful experience! If possible please do add Chicken Parmigiana to your menu! It is one of my favorite Italian dishes if not the most favorite Italian dish of mine.

Tags: great for lunch
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food3
ambience5
service5
value5

Excellent

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on May 21, 2016

I contacted the event coordinator, Eva, at the restaurant and told her about our special occasion for friends getting together. She gave us special table and suggested some appetizers which were ordered in advance so that there was no wait when the group get together. Service was excellent and the food very good.

Tags: good for groups, special occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Everything was good just not exceptional ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on May 15, 2016

Everything was good just not exceptional.

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food4
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service4

We visited Il Forniao several years ago, ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on May 9, 2016

We visited Il Forniao several years ago, and enjoyed it very much. We were meeting a special friend in Palo Alto, and decided to go to Il Forniao. We are very happy we did. Everything was Five Star. All of us present have the same response.

Tags: fit for foodies, special occasion, great for lunch
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food5
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service5
value5

We are actually HUGE fans of Il Fornaio. ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on May 9, 2016

We are actually HUGE fans of Il Fornaio. And it is my stated favorite restaurant. We go here for almost all special occassions. But for the first time, they disappointed me on this evening. It started with a very small service issue. We were brought bread but not oil and vinegar and had to track that down. The food quality was really the disappointment, though. Normally their bread is wonderful, a basket of different kinds, served warm. This evening it was a rather unexciting standard sliced loaf, cold. The soup was rather thin, also not served very hot, and had a sour taste that was unexpected given that it was butternut squash. My entree plate was not served cleanly - there were spatterings of sauce on the plate edges. And the entree itself again was not hot. And the tomato sauce tasted quite acidic, almost like it received little simmer time and not much spice. I had to add salt to both soup and entree for the first time coming here.

Anyway, I certainly won't give up on Il Fornaio. I'll give it a second chance at some point. But I'm a little sad at the potential dip in quality for a place that is normally so wonderful.

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
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food3
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service4
value3

Will never recommend this place

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on May 7, 2016

I went on a date at this place but the food was below average. Bread looked stale not warm, very hard to chew, ravioli was not cooked properly.

I will never go again.

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food1
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service2
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Nice

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on May 1, 2016

We picked Il Fornaio Palo Alto as its close to Lucie Stern Theater., and the place offers a brunch menu. The waiter was attentive, we mentioned we had an hour before our 2 pm show. I enjoyed my omelet, it was perfectly cooked and the potatoes on the side were delicious. My friends enjoyed their meal too.

Tags: great for brunch, fit for foodies, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Terrible drink service

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on April 30, 2016

Asked for an espresso Martini and showed lexi a recipe on my phone..he argued and responded that he will make it only "his way". Really didn't like his poor customer attitude especially when il fornaio is supoosed to be more high end restaurant. Some basic lessons on customer service desperately is needed.

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food4
ambience4
service2
value2

Could be better...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on April 27, 2016

We expected a higher sensory level but didn't meet expectations. The server wasn't attentive to our requests.

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food3
ambience3
service2
value2

fish was old

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on April 23, 2016

The fish was old and borderline inedible. The porterhouse steak was cooked at medium instead of medium rare as specified. And the steak was mealy. I got the impression that they were clearing out the stock room. Also, we ordered the Bisteca Fiorentina, and the Ribollita, both are classic Tuscan dishes. Neither tasted even close to what we expected. The ribollita had not developed the multi-layered flavors from slow simmering that were were accustomed to from sampling this dish in Italy. Someone show the cooks how these dishes SHOULD taste.

I have had better experiences in the past. This most recent dinner was a disappointment.

Tags: great for brunch
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food2
ambience4
service4
value3

Had the worst lasagna dish ever (tough and doughy)

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on April 22, 2016

This is a beautiful and convenient location. I have had a few fairly good meals there in the past but this evening will keep us from returning. I can't believe a chef in that prominant location cannot cook a lasagna properly. My pinot grigio was warm and sweet. I should have returned it all for something else, but didn't. Never again.

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food2
ambience4
service3
value1

Good, but...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on April 17, 2016

Was disappointed that first 2 choices of bottles of chardonnay to order were out of stock. Said it was because a private party was ordering a lot of chardonnay, but would have thought it could have been anticipated and avoided.

Tags: kid-friendly, good for groups, great for outdoor dining
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food4
ambience4
service5
value3

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