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, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Restaurant Photos

Cappuccino
Uova Del Fornaio Con Bruschetta
French Toast
Eggs Benedict
Vegetable Soup
Insalata De Tonno
Baba al Rhum
Almond croissant
carpaccio
Minestrone
Caprese
Bread
22Oz Porterhouse Steak
Dessert Platter
Cinnamon Twist
Beef Carpaccio
Crespelle Alla Crema Acida
Mocha
Tosto Francese
pancakes
Zabaglione
Sea bass
Arugula, Shrimp & Avocado Salad
Shrimp Risotto
Cannela
Maccaroni Al Formaggio
Bellini
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
Veggie Omlette
Barilotti Alla Pugliese
French Toast w/ Seasonal Berries
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

4.0

service

3.9

ambience

4.0

value

3.7

noise

Moderate

87% would recommend it to a friend

Good for Groups (48)
Special Occasion (40)
Great for Lunch (39)
See All
Great for Outdoor Dining (27)
Fit for Foodies (26)
Great for Brunch (24)
Neighborhood Gem (21)
Kid-friendly (18)
Romantic (16)
Notable Wine List (14)
Vibrant Bar Scene (5)
Late-night Find (3)
Hot Spot (3)
Scenic View (2)
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1586 reviews
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Restaurant was quiet on the evening we v ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined 3 days ago

Restaurant was quiet on the evening we visited, only about 1/4 filled. Hope this is not an omen of declining business. Made for delightful conversation and ambiance. Food not quite as good as last time due to a chef's error in omitting a key ingredient on the entree and disappointment with the salad and soup (both bland and uninteresting) and one of the daily specials was NOT available that day. Service top notch as usual. We often visit because of the changing menu featuring different regions, but no special region this time, thus the daily menu.

Tags: Seasonal, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion, Disabled Access, Good for Anniversaries
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food4
ambience5
service5
value3

Consistent food for years, reasonable, a ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined 5 days ago

Consistent food for years, reasonable, a good anytime go to.

Tags: Great for Brunch, Good for Groups, Wood Oven, Private Room, Authentic, Comfort Food, Sunday Lunch, Pre/post Theatre
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food4
ambience4
service4
value4

Check your tab; you may find an extra it ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 20, 2016

Check your tab; you may find an extra item you did not order!

Tags: Notable Wine List, Great for Brunch, Vibrant Bar Scene, Scenic View, Romantic, Hot Spot, Special Occasion, Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem, Great for Outdoor Dining, Great for Lunch
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food4
ambience5
service4
value4

The table was ready when we arrived. The ...

 
 (Sacramento)
·Dined on August 17, 2016

The table was ready when we arrived. The waiter was attentive to our needs. When the food arrived, both plates and the the food were cold. My friend had salmon and I had seafood w/pasta. The salmon was not even warm to the touch, the clams and mussels were room temperature. The waiter took them back and it appears the plates were microwaved. The salmon was now over cooked so the waiter replaced the dish while I ate my pasta, which was now dried out, while waiting for the salmon. We did not eat together. The waiter, without being asked, offered us a free desert. It was not a fair trade.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining
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food2
ambience3
service4
value2

Awful bruschetta. The salad was a carele ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 17, 2016

Awful bruschetta. The salad was a careless pile and the salmon was unremarkable.

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food2
ambience2
service2

I wasn't happy with our dinner. There wa ...

 
 (Washington DC)
·Dined on August 13, 2016

I wasn't happy with our dinner. There was a problem with the order and it took forever to get the food. Any restaurant would have offered a discount given the very long wait but Il Fornaio didn't. I also found that the place was overpriced.

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food2
ambience3
service1
value1

third time we our group (6-12 of us) ha ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 11, 2016

third time we our group (6-12 of us) have come to Il Fornaio for our business meeting and monthly gathering...we have been graced with great service - food - and making sure not only the grown ups are taken care of - but the kids that need to come - during the summer -

we will return - thanks to the staff for making sure the 9 month to 90+ year olds are taken care of in a most gracious way...

Tags: Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Good for Groups, Kid-friendly
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

The menu is limited, but the food was go ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 6, 2016

The menu is limited, but the food was good. The wait staff was friendly. I wish the menu was more complete.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining
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food3
ambience3
service4
value3

Great Italian restaurant in the heart of ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 3, 2016

Great Italian restaurant in the heart of Palo Alto University Ave.

Excellent food, good service, great price performance and a good place for large groups.

Tags: Kid-friendly, Good for Groups, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Horrible experience. We ordered and wait ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on August 1, 2016

Horrible experience. We ordered and waited 45 minutes before the food came. At that point only 3 of the 4 plates arrived. The waiter then said, "sorry, we are out of your pasta and are getting more." So 3 of us ate while the fourth sat and watched. Finally the last plate arrived as everyone else was done. I also had noted on open table that it was a special occasion, a bday lunch, and no one at the restaurant even acknowledge such.

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food3
ambience4
service1
value1

A very pleasant experience. They gave u ...

 
 (Central Coast)
·Dined on July 31, 2016

A very pleasant experience. They gave us our requested table and each of our entrees was quite good. A very large restaurant that still provides a personalized service.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Outdoor Dining, Special Occasion
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

Service was very slow! One waitress fo ...

vip
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 31, 2016

Service was very slow! One waitress for our entire crowded section. Took a very very long time to bring one drink! I got it right as I received my meal and it wasn't made right so they remade it and delivered it as I finished my meal

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food2
ambience3
service2

the food was fine the service was fine i ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 29, 2016

the food was fine the service was fine it was a lovely evening on the patio.

they only thing that sucks is getting this damn requests for feedback every time i use you online reservation service

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food1
ambience1
service1
value1

Food was disappointing. Minestrone just ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 25, 2016

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 on July 23, 2016

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: Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Special Occasion
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

Not imressive considering its at such a ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 23, 2016

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, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Special Occasion
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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: Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Kid-friendly
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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
ambience5
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
service5
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: Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Kid-friendly
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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: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Kid-friendly, Notable Wine List, Romantic, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

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: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Hot Spot, Kid-friendly, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List, Romantic, Special Occasion, Vibrant Bar Scene
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

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, Scenic View, Special Occasion
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food4
ambience3
service4
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, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Special Occasion
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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: Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List, Romantic, Special Occasion
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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 Lunch, Great for Outdoor Dining
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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: Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Great for Lunch, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

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: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Brunch, Kid-friendly, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

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