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

Promotions

Father's Day Special Menus & Reservations

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Promotions

Father's Day Special Menus & Reservations

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Details
Treat the dad's in your family to a special day at Il Fornaio filled with authentic Italian elegance, a deliciously creative menu and memories for a lifetime!

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

4.1

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4

service

4

ambience

4.1

noise

Moderate

87% would recommend it to a friend

good for groups (68)
special occasion (65)
fit for foodies (46)
See All
great for lunch (44)
neighborhood gem (41)
romantic (29)
great for outdoor dining (28)
kid-friendly (25)
notable wine list (23)
great for brunch (21)
late-night find (17)
hot spot (7)
vibrant bar scene (7)
scenic view (3)
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Newest
1544 reviews
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Excellent

Dined 7 days ago

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
food4
ambience4
service4

Everything was good just not exceptional ...

vip
Dined on May 15, 2016

Everything was good just not exceptional.

food5
ambience5
service5
value5

We visited Il Forniao several years ago, ...

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
food3
ambience5
service4
value3

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

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
food1
ambience2
service2
value1

Will never recommend this place

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.

food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Nice

vip
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
food4
ambience4
service2
value2

Terrible drink service

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.

food3
ambience3
service2
value2

Could be better...

Dined on April 27, 2016

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

food2
ambience4
service4
value3

fish was old

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
food2
ambience4
service3
value1

Had the worst lasagna dish ever (tough and doughy)

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.

food4
ambience4
service5
value3

Good, but...

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
food3
ambience4
service1
value3

It is a very relaxing place to dine.

Dined on April 17, 2016

I ordered the pizza not what I expected. The whole pizza platter was placed in front of me, and a plate was not brought to me. My husband enjoyed his dinner of seafood pasta. The first two wines we ordered they were out of but made up for it by bringing a very nice bottle of wine and charged us same price as the first two bottle of wine A friend of ours works at this restaurant and told the waiter she would cover our dessert, well he charged us for it. We did not say anything we paid for it but did not tip the waiter for the dessert.

Tags: kid-friendly, great for outdoor dining, scenic view, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
food4
ambience5
service5
value5

Very pleasant experience

Dined on April 14, 2016

Had dinner at another Il Fornaio last year so i was very happy to find one in Palo Alto. Although the menu looked a bit simpler than my last time, we found many good selections and had an excellent dinner. Service was really exceptional. Food came nice and hot and it was overall a great business dinner. I would recommend to enhance the wine menu with a larger variety of Italian higher end wines. But it was all good and loved the experience.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
food3
ambience2
service2

They have tried to cram too many tables ...

vip
Dined on April 10, 2016

They have tried to cram too many tables on one side of the room divider. The waiter had to pass by me every time to service other tables and I had to scoot in each time because he could barely fit, not to mention the distraction with all the close traffic.

food4
ambience5
service5
value4

Happy 90th

Dined on April 9, 2016

We had marvelous service, wonderful wine and excellent food in a comfortable private room for a family birthday. The room was recommended when confirming our reservation as having good acoustics for an elderly person and this worked out beautifully. One person was disappointed in the capellacci di zucca as doughier and just not as delicious as on previous visits, but the other 10 of us were very happy with our meals. Our solicitous waiter was unflappable and offered good advice on both wine and menu selections. We all had a great time, but most importantly, the honoree enjoyed herself thoroughly.

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

Great Place!

Dined on April 5, 2016

We really enjoy eating at your restaurant - Great food and service.

Tags: special occasion
food4
ambience3
service4
value4

Consistent, dependable and reasonable

Dined on April 1, 2016

Have enjoyed professional dinners here often through the years. Always a dependable go-to location which offers convenient parking and easy access to the core street (University) of downtown Palo Alto. Consistently good food and helpful servers. Only nit: wish there were a few more roundtops as opposed to two seat tables. Latter is a tad small and makes you feel like a diner as opposed to professional business tables.

Tags: neighborhood gem
food3
ambience3
service4

Worked out really well for a large party ...

Dined on March 29, 2016

Worked out really well for a large party. Service was good, fast.

food3
ambience3
service3
value3

FIrst time at this establishment. I've ...

vip
Dined on March 27, 2016

FIrst time at this establishment. I've heard a lot of good things, but didn't hold up to expectations. Food was OK. Thought they might have a special fixe Easter menu, but didn't.

Tags: great for brunch, kid-friendly, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
food3
ambience3
service3
value3

Hit or Miss

Dined on March 21, 2016

I like Il Fornaio. We have been to Palo Alto and Carmel locations multiple times and will continue to go. Food is generally good but not consistently great. We went on a Sunday this time and I think we got the "B team" in the kitchen. Fish was outstanding but potatoes were not properly drained and sitting in their own cooking water. Risotto was not properly cooked, more like a rice pilaf. Server was nice and fairly attentive.

Tags: kid-friendly, special occasion
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

Consistently good food with very good service

Dined on March 21, 2016

This was the third time we had gone there; once for no good reason, once for Valentines Day, and this time was because the other times were fairly successful. The service is always good; the first time was exceptional, which is why we came back. Also, for the squash ravioli, which is always quite good. The first time, my wife had the chicken, and was not impressed, but loved my squash ravioli. So, the next time, on Valentine's Day, she had a special squash ravioli, and she liked it a lot. This last time, my daughter and her friend ordered the Vodka pasta and the bolognese. Both could have used a bit more sauce, but the flavors were good. The service was good this time as well.

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

Quiet and quaint ambience

Dined on March 20, 2016

I treated my family to brunch for my 50 th birthday celebration. The service was mediocre as the staff appeared overwhelmed. There was a large group dining in the patio area. The salmon omelet was flavorful, but the potatoes were bland. The food, overall, was of average quality. I would have appreciated a more attentive waiter . Loved the ambience!

Tags: good for groups, special occasion
food5
ambience4
service5
value3

The service (waiter) was great!

vip
Dined on March 18, 2016

The service was excellent. We food and and wine list by the glass had diverse selection.

Tags: great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
food3
ambience3
service2
value3

Unimpressed

Dined on March 15, 2016

The servers didn't get my special request over open table. I was very disappointed that nothing was done as to the bday. We ere served w tiramisu w candle in the end. But no one conslyanted w me before hand. My husband, the birthday boy, can't have tiramisu!!!

food1
ambience3
service2
value1

very disappointing~

vip
Dined on March 14, 2016

The worst salad either of us has ever had ... and that is saying something from two seasoned business travelers. Don't order the Ahi Tuna Salad! we both ordered it and it was terrible. weird with Couscous dumped on top.. served with a hard boil egg.. which sounded fine.. but they halved the egg.. removed the yoke and filled the space with two strange tasting dressings.. enough said.. yuk~ and $21 each!

food4
ambience4
service4
value4

Consistently Delicious

Dined on March 12, 2016

We have been going to Il Fornaio for over 20 years and it is consistently very good. We love the atmosphere too. Fun to sit at the counter and watch the cooks. Great for a date night or a group event.

Tags: kid-friendly, good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem
food3
ambience3
service4
value3

classic Palo Alto

Dined on March 9, 2016

as usual service, food and atmosphere is outstanding.

Tags: romantic, special occasion, late-night find
food5
ambience3
service4
value4

Italian special treats

vip
Dined on March 9, 2016

The Liguria specials were very good. Much better than the last Italian special in San Jose. The service was also better. The artichoke soup had too many little coke parts in it. Other wise everhything was great.

Tags: good for groups, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
food3
ambience4
service1
value3

This should not be an Il Fornaio Restaurant

Dined on March 6, 2016

I had booked a table for 4 for a special occasion and since I knew other Il Fronaio Resaurants (Beverly Hills, Burlingame) I thought this was a no brainer. I never went to this location in Palo Alto but I saw the outside patio and it looked good to celebrate with the girls . I called into the Restaurant and told them about the Birthday celebration and when we walked in I spoke to Management again, but after all of this we still got poor service. We sat down and got menus but still after 20 minutes no one approached us....we wanted to order some champagne but I had to get up and walk to the hostess stand to alert service. Soon after that a waiter came out and approached us in a weird way. Asking that we needed to settle down and perhaps we should order some drinks right away. During the service he rubbed us the wrong way making inappropriate comments, also we hardly could understand his poorly spoken English. This seemed like a bus boy turned waiter situation....believe me I am all for advancement as I am an immigrant to this country myself and worked many years in upscale restaurants but this service you should not expect from an Il Fornaio. Palo Alto needs to beef up the level of service it is not nearly as close to Burlingame's & Beverly Hills Il Fornaio. The icing on the top was that they brought out the desert with out the candle which I had asked for on 2 occations, I was simply embarrassed towards my group of friends.

food1
ambience3
service1

Waiter was unattentive. Sea bass was fu ...

Dined on March 3, 2016

Waiter was unattentive. Sea bass was full of bones and burnt.

food4
ambience5
service5
value4

A Good Celebration Spot

Dined on March 2, 2016

It was my son's birthday ( in his sixties), so I took him and his wife to dinner. The ambience and service at Il Fornaio were outstanding, as expected. The artichoke soup and the calamari appetizer were somewhat disappointing. The calamari needed to be cooked longer (we all felt) and the soup was not very tasty. My beet salad was excellent, however. I am not sure how they felt about their entrees. It is still a wonderful place to celebrate special occasions and I will do it again.

Tags: great for brunch, special occasion, great for lunch, late-night find
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

We Had A Private Room

Dined on February 27, 2016

Would just mention that we were able to get a private room at Il Fornaio, and I would highly recommend it for that feature as well. It meant that we were able to enjoy all the qualities of the restaurant even more.

Tags: good for groups, special occasion, hot spot
food2
ambience4
service5
value3

Lunch with business associates

Dined on February 25, 2016

Go to lunch here quite often...Service is always good, atmosphere a little noisy but expected, food generally good..This time food was substandard...Fish overcooked, pasta cold...must have been a rushed or bad day...Need to maintain quality control a little better..Appeared to be under new management...

Tags: great for lunch
food4
ambience4
service5
value3

Fun eating in Italy

Dined on February 22, 2016

Il Fornaio is noted for changing its menu regularly to feature the cuisine of different regions of Italy. This makes it fun and interesting to revisit often to sample different Italian food, well prepared. We went on a night that Umbria was featured, a cuisine we are not as familiar with. As usual, we ordered the "tasting menu" where we ate an all-Umbrian dinner, matched with a recommended wine from the region. The white wine was a good and different choice. The soup was undistinguished—very bland. The pasta was not as good as expected and rather skimpy. The main dish was already out of the lamb, but the duck was excellent with a delicious sauce. We decided to eat an Umbrian dessert and it was devilishly rich and delicious. Our favorite item of the evening was an excellent attentive server.

Tags: fit for foodies, special occasion, late-night find
food4
ambience3
service5
value5

Great service and nice food.

Dined on February 21, 2016

Thank our server for attentive but not fawning attention. No one interrupted a conversation. No one failed to fill waters and wine. Nice evening for a crowd that did not know each other well.

Tags: good for groups
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Our favorite place

Dined on February 21, 2016

We have been going here for years and it is our favorite special restaurant. Wonderful food, very often space available, fantastic service, and, although it is a nice and somewhat expensive meal, it is reasonably priced for such an amazing meal.

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
food3
ambience3
service1
value3

poor service

Dined on February 20, 2016

SERVICE POOR May not come back. Jose was rude, slow, not attentive. Not friendly water guy either

Tags: special occasion
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Excellence

Dined on February 16, 2016

Everything about our recent lunch at Il Fornaio was great. From the gentleman who greeted us and seated us to the wait staff. The salmon salad was perfectly prepared, and my friend said her seafood dish of Prawns, and calamari was excellent. Our waiter was attentive, yet was careful not to interrupt us when we were in the middle of a conversation. I am always happy with my meal and the service at Il Fornaio. I'll be back.

Tags: romantic, special occasion, great for lunch
food2
ambience4
service5
value2

Il Fornaio - Attractive but Bland

Dined on February 16, 2016

A very nice place and the best service ever. Our waiter was the perfect combo of attentive and helpful. Sadly, the food, although expensive, was mediocre. I had salmon on a bed of artichokes with a potato on the side that had been sliced horizonally, then given a topping. The salmon was good, flakey and tasty. The artichokes were slivered, but tough and fibrous and not at all flavorful. The potato was just that, a potato. It had some brown topping which tasted like crumbs, perhaps, but which was as bland as the artichokes. Disappointing, especially since the meal was a birthday gift .

food5
ambience5
service5

Always great, always fun, always one of ...

vip
Dined on February 15, 2016

Always great, always fun, always one of the best "go to" places in Palo Alto!

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